Scientists at the MPIE

Dr. Karl Mayrhofer is head of the group ‘Electrocatalysis’ within the department of ‘Interface Chemistry and Surface Engineering’ at the MPIE since 2010. At the same time he also teaches advanced methods in electroanalytical chemistry at the Ruhr University Bochum (Germany).

Before joining the MPIE, Dr. Mayrhofer worked as a postdoc on size-selected clusters as catalysts for fuel cell reactions at the technical University of Munich. He pursued his PhD studies at the University of Vienna and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory which is affiliated to the United States Department of Energy and located in Berkeley, California. In his thesis he analysed the oxygen reduction and carbon monoxide oxidation on platinum. Thereby he considered model as well as real systems for fuel cell electrocatalysts.

Karl Mayrhofer is especially renowned for his works on fuel cell and electrolysis technology and has been honoured with multiple science awards such as the “Science Award Electrochemistry 2013” which is sponsored by Volkswagen and BASF or the “Innovationspreis NRW 2012”, an award of the state North Rhine Westphalia for innovative research, each endowed with 50.000 €. His latest award is the “Dechema Preis 2014”, an international award for excellent research in technical chemistry, engineering and biotechnology of the Max Buchner society.

Current research projects with scientific and industrial partners are for example on new materials for water electrolysis – a project together with the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (grant sum: 4 Mio € in total). Another project is on structure-degradation relationships for electrocatalysts. This project will last till 2017 and has a grant sum of 240.000 €.

Coupling of an electrochemical scanning flow cell (SFC) to an online electrochemical mass spectrometer (OLEMS). A tip (white part) is introduced from the top of the cell and a PTFE membrane (20 nm pore size) is placed at its bottom. When the cell is approached to the working electrode, the distance between membrane and electrode is only 50-100 μm. Volatile products evolving on the electrode evaporate through the membrane and are analysed time respectively potential/current resolved by the mass spectrometer.

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