The Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung, founded in 1912 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute für Kohlenforschung (see history) is a foundation of private law controlled by a Board of Governors. It pursues basic research in all fields of catalysis. The central theme pervading all Departments is basic research in the catalytic transformation of compounds and materials with the highest degree of chemo-, regio- and stereoselectivity under conditions which maximize efficient use of natural resources.
Researchers at the institute perform basic research in the fields of organic and organometallic chemistry, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, as well as in theoretical chemistry. Five interacting departments, each one managed by one scientific director, form the scientific backbone of the institute. They get support by service groups that provide state of the art analytics, efficient IT, and excellent hardware from specialized workshops.
About 120 of the more than 300 employees of the institute are diploma and PhD students or Post-Docs. In addition, the institute educates about 30 apprentices in various disciplines (see career and education/apprenticeship).
The Institute undergoes regular evaluations by a Scientific Advisory Board.
The patents and licenses of the Institute are administered by SGK (Studiengesellschaft Kohle).