Press release ¤ Information de presse

Mar 17, 2016

High value – low price: effective catalysts for fuel cells

Prof. Dr. Peter Strasser of TU Berlin is the recipient of the Otto Roelen Medal 2016. This prize is being awarded by DECHEMA and the German Catalysis Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Katalyse) in recognition of his seminal research leading to the discovery of highly active bimetallic core-shell catalysts. As a result, fuel cells can be applied, for instance, in hydrogen-powered vehicles as an inexpensive and sustainable energy source.

Fuel cells have been researched for many years as an alternative energy source. They are used to generate electrical energy from hydrogen and oxygen. Since water is the sole reaction product, the method is very environmentally friendly. However, in order for the reaction to take place, a platinum catalyst is required, which makes fuel cells expensive.

Peter Strasser has succeeded in developing catalysts that are not only better, but also cheaper than the precious metal. He developed a nanomaterial consisting of a core made of a copper-nickel alloy and an extremely thin platinum shell. This catalyst is considerably more effective than the pure platinum version used hitherto.

Peter Strasser’s research addresses the physical chemistry, materials science and catalysis of electrified liquid-solid interfaces. Besides basic research on electrocatalytic reaction mechanisms and fundamental structure-activity relationships, his work focuses on applied aspects of electrochemical processes, which are highly relevant in the context of the conversion and storage of renewable energies.

Peter Strasser studied chemistry at the Universities of Tübingen/Germany, Stanford/USA and Pisa/Italy. In 1996 he spent a year as a visiting research scientist at Sony Central Research in Yokohama/Japan. In 1999 he received his doctorate in physical chemistry and electrochemistry from the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin under the supervision of Professor Gerhard Ertl, the 2007 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. In the same year Peter Strasser was awarded the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society. From 2001 to 2004 he worked as a Senior Scientist in the field of electronic materials and heterogeneous catalysis at Symyx Technologies in Santa Clara/USA. He was subsequently appointed Assistant Professor for Chemical Engineering at the University of Houston/ USA. In 2007 he accepted the Chaired Professorship for Electrochemistry and Electrocatalysis in the Chemical Engineering Division of the Department of Chemistry at the Technical University of Berlin.

Endowed by the Oxea Group, the Otto Roelen Medal of DECHEMA has generally been awarded every two years since 1997; it includes a cash prize of 5,000 euros. The Medal honours outstanding scientific achievements coupled with strong industrial relevance in the field of catalysis. The award ceremony took place on March 17, 2016 at the annual meeting of the German Catalysis Society in Weimar.


The German Catalysis Society (GeCatS) is the platform for the entire German catalysis community in the area of research and application. Currently it has some 1100 members from industry and academia. GeCatS promotes the scientific and technical dialogue between industry, universities, non-university research institutes and research policy institutions and represents the interests of the catalysis community on a national and international level. The German Catalysis Society is supported by DECHEMA, VDI-GVC, GDCh, DGMK und DBG.


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