Herbert Ortner was born May 7, 1932 in Graz, Austria. In spite of World War II, he had a very happy childhood with his parents, Hermann and Louise, and his elder brother, Gerhard. He considered himself fortunate to be able to study in his hometown, and earned his engineering degree in mechanical engineering and pulp and paper technology in 1958, as well as his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Technical University in Graz in 1961. Unfortunately, his father died in 1956 at the age of 58 and, therefore, did not see Dr. Ortner’s achievements.
After his studies at the Technical University, plus a year and a half of work as a shift foreman at the Leykam Paper Mill at Gratkorn, Austria, Dr. Ortner began his assignment as a research engineer at the Voith Paper Research Institute, Heidenheim, Germany, on October 1, 1959. Here, among other responsibilities, he was decisively engaged in the development of the flotation-deinking process for the recycling of printed waste paper and introducing this recycling process to the world wide paper industry.
When he completed his doctoral degree in 1961, his thesis was entitled “On the Application of Flotation for the Cleaning of Printed Waste Paper, Especially for the Removal of the Printing Ink”. At the end of 1965, he was transferred to technical sales of the newly established Voith Stockpreparation Division and, in 1967, he was promoted to chief engineer of this department. In 1970, he became mill manager of the Pulp and Paper Mill Brigl & Bermeister at Niklasdorf, Austria, Styria.
Dr. Ortner returned to Voith in 1972 as chief engineer of the Integrated Pulp and Paper Mill department. He was appointed head of the Voith Stockpreparation Division in 1973. In 1976, he was promoted to vice president and general manager. The division received world wide recognition and an excellent international reputation under his leadership. Since October 1994, he has been senior vice president Integrated Paper Mill Projects of Voith Sulzer Paper Technology, with main emphasis on Far-East and Southeast Asia.
The hallmark of Dr. Ortner’s professional career at Voith was the application of science and fundamental principles to advance papermaking and paper recycling, including flotation de-inking. He combined his vast knowledge of the entire papermaking process with his innovative and creative thinking to develop new processes and to improve existing ones to meet the needs of the industry. When he began this work in 1959, only a few mills were deinking recovered papers. By 1978, about 125 flotation de-inking plants were in operation, with an annual production of over 2.5 million tons. Dr. Ortner continued improving and promoting flotation so that by 1985, there were 230 flotation de-inking plants world wide producing about 7 million tons.
Dr. Ortner’s presentations at conferences and his list of publications and patents have covered a broad range of topics, including coating, refining, sizing, surface treatment of paper, screening, recovered paper repulping, dispersion and kneading, high consistency pulping, and overall plant system design.
Dr. Ortner is a member of Academic Engineers Association at the Technical University, Graz Austria (APV); Austrian Pulp & Paper Chemists and Engineers Association (OEZEPA); German Pulp & Paper Chemists and Engineers Association (Zellcheming); and Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI).
On September 30, 1998, at age 66, Dr. Ortner retired. He continues to be available for the company as a special consultant. Dr. Ortner and his wife, Christa, have raised two children. His leisure activities include skiing, tennis, biking, swimming, sailing, and mountain biking. (Dr. Ortner died in 2013)