Course paper / final thesis

Development of Platinum Free/Lean Electrocatalysts for Fuel Cells

Starting date

January 2024

Duration of contract

6 months


up to German TVöD 5

Type of employment

Full-time (part-time possible)

The Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt -DLR) in Stuttgart, with further research facilities in Cologne, Ulm, Oldenburg and Hamburg, does research in the field of efficient energy storage systems that conserve natural resources, and next generation energy conversion technologies with a staff of 180 scientific and technical employees, engineers and doctoral candidates. The spectrum of activities ranges from theoretical studies to laboratory work for basic research and to the operation of pilot plants. These experimental and theoretical studies are accompanied by systems analysis studies to analyse the associated technological, environmental and economic potential and situate it in a larger overall context of the energy economy by means of scenarios. A tight network with the University of Stuttgart -especially with the Institute of Energy Storage- and with the Helmholtz Institute Ulm at the University of Ulm is existing.

Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs) are an emerging green energy technology used in automotive applications. PEMFCs are electrochemical energy converters, which generate electricity from hydrogen and air, producing only water vapor as an exhaust gas. However, advances in cost, performance and durability are still needed to gain market acceptance. A way to mitigate these critical issues is to develop high performance critical raw material free/lean electrocatalysts. Flame Spray Pyrolysis (FSP) – a unique, high temperature and scalable nanomaterial production technique - could be a suitable method to achieve highly efficient catalysts for PEMFC technology.

This project aims at the development of Platinum free/lean Electrocatalysts for Fuel Cells (Metal Nitrogen Carbon Catalysts and High Entropy Electrocatalysts) using FSP techniques in single step. Unique synthesis conditions used in FSP as compared to conventional routes enable to explore new horizon of materials characteristics. N(S) doped C and Fe/Co/Ni vapor deposition on doped-C will be produced by single (sequential precipitation of Metals and C) and dual (co-precipitation of Metals and C) flame configuration for optimization of density of active sites. The project will expore the potential of FSP techniques and improve the understanding of active oxygen reduction reaction site formation under extreme conditions using various ex-situ characterization techniques.

The main objectives and results are: 

  • Development of doped-C and metal vapor deposits by FSP techniques
  • understanding the roles of particle formation under extreme conditions in density of active sites and optimizing FSP/precursor composition accordingly for high performance catalyst production
  • validating materials performance and durability in half cell and single PEMFC cell level
  • thorough post operation degradation investigation for each cell component
  • If necessary, sample preparation and material characterization data analysis for SEM, XRD, XPS, AFM, BET and TGA, depositing catalyst layers using electrospray
  • written elaboration and documentation


Your qualifications:

  • Degree in Engineering or Science Studies such as Materials Science, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Energy and/or Environmental Engineering, Physics and related field. Note that your mission can be adjusted accordingly to your field of education and necessary guidance will be given
  • Ability to work in a team
  • basic knowledge of Nanomaterial and Electrochemistry
  • general laboratory experience

Your benefits:

Look forward to a fulfilling job with an employer who appreciates your commitment and supports your personal and professional development. Our unique infrastructure offers you a working environment in which you have unparalleled scope to develop your creative ideas and accomplish your professional objectives. Our human resources policy places great value on a healthy family and work-life-balance as well as equal opportunities for persons of all genders (f/m/x). Individuals with disabilities will be given preferential consideration in the event their qualifications are equivalent to those of other candidates.

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Technical contact

Suriya Venkatesan
Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics

Phone: +49 711 6862-8170

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Vacancy 88072

HR department Stuttgart

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DLR site Stuttgart

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DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics

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