The Strata Mechanics Research Institute
In 1954, the authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences established an independent research unit under the name of the Strata Mechanics Research Department (Pol. Zakład Mechaniki Górotworu; ZMG PAN). In 1977, the Department received a new statute, and has been functioning as the Strata Mechanics Research Institute (Pol. Instytut Mechaniki Górotworu; IMG PAN) ever since. The office of the Department Head was first occupied by Professor Witold Budryk – an eminent scientist and a well-respected authority on mining sciences, and on mining aerology and strata mechanics in particular – whose work and influence played a significant role in education of several generations of scientists. In 1959, he was replaced by Professor Jerzy Litwiniszyn, under whose tenure both the staff numbers and the scope of the research increased significantly. The latter was expanded to include such areas as rock mechanics, flow metrology, the dynamics of non-steady air and gas flow in mine ventilation networks, micrometrics, mining subsidence, flows in porous media, and gasodynamics. The Department recruited not only mining engineers, but also mathematicians, physicists, chemists, and mechanics. In recognition of its outstanding research achievements, the Department was granted the right to award doctoral degrees in its assigned fields, and its status was changed into the one of an Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences. In 1987, Professor Wacław Trutwin was appointed the head of the Strata Mechanics Research Institute. Since 2003, this office has been held by Professor Wacław Dziurzyński.
The focus of the scientific activity of the Strata Mechanics Research Institute is basic, cognitive, and applied research. In large part, it is still related to the current scientific issues concerning mining, especially in the field of mining safety engineering and the impact of mining activity on the natural environment. The scientific research conducted at the Institute encompasses complex experiments, aiming at verifying the developed theories and methods concerning the physical phenomena and processes being the subject of analysis. The Institute is constantly developing measurement methods, and, being in possession of some unique equipment, is also carrying out experimental research in laboratories and on real objects, as well as numerical experiments. The knowledge gained thereby, together with unique measuring devices and highly qualified staff, made it possible to establish the Calibration Laboratory for Ventilation Measuring Instruments, which, in 2008, received the accreditation no. AP 118.
The Institute’s scope of research includes some problems that so far have not been satisfactorily solved, such as the methods of controlling rocks nad gas outbursts, methods of forecasting the process of ventilation in complex network structures and in the porous medium, or investigating the physical properties of rocks with fluid-filled pores. The Institute is also a leading research unit – both on a country-wide and international scale – in the field of controlling rock and gas outbursts, as well as forecasting the process of ventilation understood as a non-steady air and gas flow in a complex network of excavations, tunnels, channels, pipelines, and other ventilating ducts, under the circumstances of flow disturbances (underground fires, rockbursts, rock and gas outbursts). Another significant area of study is the development of gas flow measurement methods on the basis of hot wire anemometers and the use of innovative devices for measuring speed, flow, temperature, and pressure of gases.
Yet another significant and future-oriented area of research involves underground coal gasification, as well as carbon dioxide capture and storage. Within this area, the Institute approaches some as yet unsolved research problems, connected with the effect of the processes of coal gasification, or carbon dioxide storage, on accompanying phenomena and resulting hazards. The aim of this research is to develop methods useful in assessing the risk involved in underground mining activity in view of safety of the people living on the surface. The scientific activity of the Institute fosters the development of mining sciences and is of service to the entire scientific community. The methods developed at the Institute, as well as measuring devices and instruments based on new solutions, should contribute to a successful application of the relevant knowledge in issues related to human environment.