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BLDP: Its Catalyst Technology


The alphaDIRECT Insight

We view ongoing cost reduction as one of the keys to the increase in fuel cell adoption at commercial scale. An important underpinning of the product cost curve is the catalyst used in a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. This is a key focus for Ballard, as one would expect, and with recent ground-breaking catalyst developments, such as proprietary treatments to increase durability and new designs to integrate advanced platinum-based catalysts and research into non-precious metal catalysts, Ballard is wellpositioned to effectively address this area in our view. By successfully redesigning core alternative platinum components, Ballard has the world’s first non-precious metal catalyst product requiring less than 80% of the platinum used in conventional fuel cells. This fuel cell technology has the potential to significantly decrease the cost of PEM fuel cells when produced at large scale

Shawn Severson: First, I would like to thank you, Kevin, for taking the time to speak with us today. The last time we spoke with Ballard Power Systems, we focused on the way in which the convergence of key global trends is opening a path for commercial deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles, or FCEVs, in China,Europe and the U.S. Today our focus will be on your catalyst technology. However, before we get started, could you give us a brief introduction of yourself and what brought you to Ballard?

Kevin Colbow: Thanks Shawn, I grew up in Vancouver and did all my formal education in the Lower Mainland. My father was a Physics professor at Simon Fraser University, so I actually did my undergrad degree in Physics there. I then went on to do my Masters at the University of British Columbia, where I focused on lithium-ion rechargeable batteries along with electrochemistry.

After completing my PhD, I left the lower mainland to do my post-doctoral assignment in Germany. I was there for three years, but knew that I would return to Vancouver one day. Once I returned, I started to look for employment in the technology sector, and came across Ballard Power Systems. This was in 1994 and Ballard was a small startup technology company that was founded on an idea that just might change the world. Twenty-four years later, I’m still with the same company where I was appointed Vice President of Technology and Product Devleopment in 2016.

I’ve always been very interested in technology and I really liked the idea of electric vehicles, mobility – all these sorts of things that were really only visions at that time. I also knew I wanted to do something very applied, as opposed to staying in the academic world. I felt I wanted to try and make a more tangible contribution to society.