Ballard will be supplying 100-kilowatt fuel cells to power the eight tram-buses being built by Van Hool NV for delivery in Pau, France to the Syndicat Mixte de Transports Urbains.

This will be the first hydrogen bus route in France and the world’s first hydrogen tram-buses for a Bus Rapid Transit System. These clean energy hybrid tram-buses will use fuel cells for primary power and lithium batteries for additional power when needed, with the only emission being water vapour. Each tram-bus is over 18 meters long (over 60 feet), has capacity for 125 passengers and can operate more than 300 kilometers (185 miles) between hydrogen refuelling, which takes just 10 minutes to complete.
In addition to their environmental benefits, hybrid fuel cell tram-buses offer a number of important advantages, including: the highest level of operational flexibility and productivity; high levels of passenger comfort and safety; and lower cost than a traditional tram.   Rob Campbell, Ballard Chief Commercial Officer, said that this is a further sign of the growing importance of zero-emission fuel cell solutions globally.



A fuel cell bus powered by Ballard’s FCveloCity® fuel cells has achieved a new durability record, with more than 25,000 hours of revenue service. This is equivalent to operating a bus on a 14-hour daily schedule, 5-days per week for 6.9 years with no significant maintenance to the fuel cell stack, a core engine component.

The bus – and several others nearing the 25,000-hour operating threshold – are part of a Transport for London fleet of eight fuel cell buses carrying paying passengers on London’s Tower Gateway route since 2010.   The buses were originally funded under the Clean Hydrogen in European Cities (CHIC) fuel cell bus programme.

Ballard’s seven generations of FCveloCity® fuel cell engines have been deployed in buses in 15 countries on five continents during the past 10 years. Over this period Ballard has worked with 13 bus manufacturers to develop a variety of fuel cell bus configurations that have been deployed in a wide range of climatic conditions and operated under a host of demanding duty cycles. Globally Ballard-powered fuel cell buses have now travelled cumulatively more than 11 million kilometers (6.8 million miles) in revenue service. Ballard is seeing increased market demand for FCveloCity® fuel cell engines of various sizes for use in a number of different vehicle types, including buses, trucks and rail.


 Ballard has received an order from SunLine Transit Agency for five FCveloCity® fuel cells  to power clean energy buses in Palm Desert, California. The 150 kilowatt  fuel cell engines are expected to be shipped in 2017.  Ballard is partnering with ElDorado National, a key North American bus OEM, and BAE Systems.

This will double SunLine’s current fleet of fuel cell buses and allow it to offer an expanded transit service in Southern California.  “We are very pleased with the continued progress in deployment of zero-emission mass transit alternatives in the U.S. market,” said Rob Campbell, Ballard’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Our partnership with SunLine, ElDorado National and BAE Systems puts Ballard at the forefront of North American fuel cell bus deployments and further adds momentum to the growing global trend toward clean energy buses and other heavy duty transit solutions.”

SunLine Transit Agency received funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to purchase and deploy the five hydrogen fuel cell electric buses. The program provides funding to transit agencies for capital acquisitions and leases of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including acquisition, construction and leasing of required infrastructure such as refuelling and maintenance facilities.   The buses will use the previously deployed American Fuel Cell Bus configuration, which utilizes Ballard’s heavy duty fuel cell engine to provide primary power, in combination with BAE Systems’ electric propulsion and power management systems. There are currently 13 of these buses deployed with various transit agencies across North America, with another 10 on order including the five for SunLine.


Ballard’s 85-kilowatt fuel cell engine will power a hybrid class 8 drayage truck built by Kenworth Truck Company. The drayage truck is planned to haul shipping containers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to area warehouses and intermodal facilities.

Ballard keworth

The fuel cell engine in the Kenworth truck will be used to recharge onboard lithium-ion batteries, which power a dual-rotor electric motor to drive the rear tandem axle through a 4-speed automated transmission. The truck will have a battery-only range of approximately 30 miles, and onboard hydrogen fuel will provide sufficient range for a full day in regional haul applications.

Patrick Dean, Kenworth chief engineer said, “Within the next decade, hybrid-electric powertrains are expected to be required to satisfy emissions regulations in several major U.S. metropolitan areas. For example, California is considering regulations that will require zero-emission levels for port drayage trucks operating in specifically designated areas. We look forward to playing a leadership role to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead.”

Jason Hanlin, Director of Technology Development at the Center for Transportation and the Environment, noted: “The strength of this project comes from a team that is comprised of leaders in their respective fields – Kenworth for their heavy-duty truck design and manufacturing experience, BAE Systems for their powertrain integration and component supply experience, and Ballard for their extensive fuel cell supply experience. Working with this team on the technical development of a fuel cell drayage truck has been nothing short of impressive and inspiring.”


A ceremonial opening event was held at the fuel cell stack joint venture operation in the City of Yunfu, in China.  Ballard has a 10% interest in the joint venture – called Guangdong Synergy Ballard Hydrogen Power Co. Ltd. (JVCo) – together with partner Guangdong Nation Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co. Ltd. (Synergy). The fuel cell stacks manufactured by JVCo are expected to be used primarily in fuel cell engines assembled in China to provide propulsion power for zero-emission fuel cell electric buses and commercial vehicles in China.

At the ceremony Randy MacEwen, Ballard’s CEO, said  “This landmark opening of our stack joint venture operation represents a critical part of our strategy to service the unprecedented level of market interest for fuel cell electric vehicles in heavy duty motive applications in China – the largest market in the world.  Our strategy is to enable Ballard’s Chinese partners to rapidly achieve scale and significantly drive down product costs while also satisfying local content objectives for locally manufactured stacks and modules.”

The JVCo operation is currently ramping up to an annual production capacity of 6,000 FCvelocity®-9SSL fuel cell stacks by late 2017 and in the future is designed to achieve an annual production capacity of 20,000 fuel cell stacks. The operation includes certain advanced automation techniques.  The joint venture transaction has an estimated minimum value to Ballard of $170 million over five years.

Ballard Power Company’s subsidiary, Protonex, has received an initial order for its fuel cell propulsion system from FlyH2 Aerospace, a South African-based developer of hydrogen fuel cell powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for commercial applications.

FlyH2 plans to integrate the Protonex fuel cell system into all three of its aircraft currently in development.  UA Plant is expected to be a 30 kilogram fuel cell-powered agricultural utility aircraft with 9-hour flight endurance. In agriculture, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles rather than conventional piloted aircraft, which sometimes operate as low as 150 feet above the ground, reduces the risk to pilots and also avoids noise abatement issues. In addition, the enhanced reliability of fuel cell engines further protects people and property on the ground.


UA Alpha will be a long-range, long-endurance survey and reconnaissance aircraft designed to carry advanced sensors.

Specifications include a wingspan of 8.2 meters (27 feet), maximum cruising altitude of 4,250 meters (14,000 feet) and flight distance of more than 600 kilometers (370 miles). Onboard sensors will survey environmental variables used in the management of fires, pollution, erosion, alien vegetation and plant diseases.

In a similar development, FlyH2’s third drone, the UA Gecko, is being designed to monitor physical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, pipelines and powerlines.

A fuel cell propulsion system allows for endurances comparable to an internal combustion engine, but with several added benefits. These include silent operation, increased reliability, lower vibration and less maintenance. The total cost of ownership is also expected to be lower and the aircraft will only require one fuel stop per day for all-day operations.

To support the integration of the Protonex fuel cell propulsion system into its UA Plant aircraft, FlyH2 has partnered with Epsilon Engineering, a South African engineering and manufacturing services provider. Project work is partially funded by the Government of South Africa as well as the South African agriculture industry.

Mark van Wyk, Co-Founder of FlyH2 Aerospace said, “Protonex systems bring with them unique new capabilities for our aircraft, allowing us to quickly fulfill our vision of producing high quality, rugged and reliable long-endurance electric unmanned aircraft.”

Dr. Paul Osenar, President of Protonex said, “FlyH2 has tremendous expertise in the design and development of drone systems, and recognizes the benefits offered by fuel cell propulsion. When combined with improved reliability and other advantages over internal combustion systems, fuel cells are proving to be a high value fit for UAVs. These will be the first civilian drones that we have powered, in addition to our work on military UAVs with several global aerospace customers.”


Ballard and Protonex have announced that the U.S. Army has received approval for its Mobile Soldier Power Program to start full rate production.  This program includes a number of new devices focused on improving power and energy management on and around the soldier, including the Protonex’ Squad Power Manager Kit.

The Protonex  kit is a tough, versatile and agile power management device, weighing less than a pound.  It enables military forces to manage and prioritize power use for various electronic devices – including portable radios, GPS systems, medical equipment and computers – from any available power source. It has the ability to scavenge from vehicles, other batteries, solar panels and other energy sources, allowing military units to recharge essential batteries when resupply is unavailable or delayed. As a result, the U.S. Department of Defense and allied militaries have deployed more than 5,500 Protonex Squad Power Manager Kits through the limited production phase of the program.

“With the digitization of the battlefield, the U.S. military identified a capability gap in energy and power management for its increasing array of electronic devices,” said Paul Osenar, President of Protonex. “Our Squad Power Manager is one of the solutions that fill this gap, lightening the load of troops by eliminating many of the batteries, adapters and chargers they carry.”



Ballard Power Systems has been collaborating since 2013 with Nisshinbo Holdings, an environmental and energy company, to develop a non-precious metal catalyst for use in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells.  Ballard has successfully incorporated the catalyst into a high performing catalyst layer under a Technology Solutions program and plans to launch a new 30-watt fuel cell stack product for commercial use later this year.
The FCgen®-1040 fuel cell stack using the non-precious metal will be a variant of Ballard’s micro fuel cell stack. It is designed for integration into ultra lightweight applications, such as laptop and cell phone chargers, and power devices for soldiers.  Dr. Kevin Colbow, Ballard’s Vice President of Product Development said: “This stack represents a step-change in PEM fuel cell technology, with high performance at a reduced cost. Since platinum contributes 10% to 15% of the cost of a fuel cell stack today, we are very excited about the potential cost savings.  Based on the success of this program we are interested in exploring its use for various commercial applications.   Our goal is to ultimately implement lower-cost Non Precious Metal Catalyst based stacks into certain mobility applications, with an initial focus on materials handling. Blue-chip brands such as Walmart and Amazon have demonstrated the strong value proposition offered by current fuel cell-powered forklift trucks operating in high throughput distribution centers. The work done to date represents an important part of our strategy in Japan, where we are focused on breakthrough technology development with select partners”

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