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• Ballard Power Systems focuses on the manufacture of fuel cells
• Worldwide sales of environmentally friendly hydrogen buses
• Expansion into the Chinese market
The Canadian company Ballard Power Systems is a manufacturer of fuel cells based on environmentally friendly hydrogen technology. In the last few years in particular, the company has specialized heavily in equipping fuel cell buses.
Thanks to the many well-known customers – including the Belgian bus builder Van Hool, Volkswagen and Siemens – Ballard has recently achieved great success. But how has the company developed over time? We take a look at the company’s history.
Ballard Power founded in 1979
The Canadian company was founded in 1979 by geophysicist Geoffrey Ballard together with his colleagues Keith Prater and Paul Howard. The company’s original idea was to research and develop high-energy lithium batteries more thoroughly. Since 1983 Ballard was mainly concerned with the development of emission-free PEM fuel cells that were environmentally friendly and at the same time suitable for the market. Three years later, Ballard succeeded for the first time in developing a fuel cell stack with compressed air – another seven years later it was already able to impress with 5 kW output.
1993: First fuel cell bus with hydrogen technology
From 1991 Ballard began to work more closely with other companies. This year, the company, together with General Motors and the US Department of Energy, set itself the goal of developing a car with a fuel cell drive. Two years later, the first bus to be powered solely by fuel cells based on hydrogen technology was presented on the market.
Ballard and Daimler-Benz also reached an agreement to develop a compact fuel cell stack with a high power density. Just two years later, according to the company, the Ballard fuel cell stack was already characterized by a power density of 700 watts per kilogram.
But it was not until 2001 that the first product was offered on the market.
Ballard Power focuses on the development of fuel cells
In 2008 Ballard’s automotive development department was sold to business partners Daimler and Ford. From then on, Ballard focused primarily on the further development of fuel cells and electric drives for fuel cell vehicles.
In 2003 the fuel company received an important order from Mercedes Benz: 30 fuel cell buses were to be tested in the revenue service in ten European cities – including Barcelona, Hamburg and London – for three years. Three buses were also used in Australia and China. According to information from Mercedes Benz, the buses have covered more than two million kilometers in around 135,000 operating hours since the start of the project. According to the experts, this clearly proves that the environmentally friendly fuel cell drive is also suitable for normal city buses. After the end of the project in 2007, however, the fuel cell buses were only used in Hamburg, Amsterdam and London.
20 buses were also used at the Olympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Games in 2010.
In 2013 and 2015, the Canadian fuel cell company signed a contract with Volkswagen AG to advance the development of fuel cell vehicles. In addition, the world’s largest primary producer of Platinum Anglo American Platinum Limited and the Japanese conglomerate Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. invested a total of US $ 9 million in the fuel cell company.
Expansion into the Chinese market
From 2016 on, Ballard made efforts to establish fuel cells for buses, cars and vans on the Chinese market as well. Two years later, Ballard concluded a strategic partnership with the Chinese company Weichai Power, which took over a 19.9 percent stake in the company.
Ballard Power today
In 2019 Ballard set up a fuel cell competence center in Denmark. There, fuel cells are being developed for the marine market in order to be able to offer emission-free solutions to the use of ships. In the course of this project, the high-performance fuel cell module FCwave was brought onto the market.
According to Ballard Power, electric vehicles powered by Ballard fuel cells have now covered more than 50 million kilometers.
And the construction of environmentally friendly fuel cells will continue to be promoted. For example, the company has agreed a development partnership with AUDI until at least 2022.
Pauline Breitner / editors Forex-news.com.net
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