Franz Fischer (1877 - 1947)
Director 1913 - 1943
Franz Fischer studied chemistry at the Universities of Munich, Freiburg and Gießen, where he graduated in 1899 under the guidance of Karl Elbs with a thesis on chemical processes in lead accumulators. After a post-doctoral stint in Paris with the later Nobel Prize winner Henri Moissan, he gained his “Habilitation” at the University of Freiburg in 1903 with work on the anodic behaviour of copper and aluminium. He then joined the University of Berlin, where he worked at the Institute of the Nobel Prize winner Emil Fischer. In 1908 he became Professor and later “Chair” of Electrochemistry at the TH Charlottenburg (1911). In 1913, he was appointed Founding Director of the then Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Kohlenforschung, now the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung. Together with Hans Tropsch, he developed the so-called “Fischer-Tropsch process” in 1925, which allows coal (or other carbon-containing feedstocks) to be converted into liquid fuels. This process is still in use today on large industrial scale. It is also thanks to Franz Fischer that the present MPI für Kohlenforschung became a Foundation under Private Law (1939).