Ballard and UCAR Enter into Development, Collaboration and Supply Agreement

June 05, 2001 by Jeff Shepard

Ballard Power Systems Inc. (Canada) announced that it has entered into an exclusive development, collaboration and long-term supply agreement for natural graphite-based materials and manufactured components with UCAR International Inc. (Nashville, TN). Ballard will also become a strategic investor in Graftech Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of UCAR. Ballard has agreed to invest $5.0 million for a 2.5-percent ownership interest in the subsidiary.

The scope of the new agreement expands upon Graftech’s and Ballard’s initial collaboration announced in 1999. The development, which has been extended from 2002 in the initial collaboration to 2011, includes natural graphite-based materials and components for use in PEM fuel cells and fuel-cell systems for transportation, stationary and portable applications. The program will concentrate on the development of cost-effective graphitic materials and components, including flow-field plates and gas-diffusion layers. As part of the arrangement, Graftech will also develop and manufacture prototype materials and components, and provide early-stage testing of these prototypes in an on-site fuel-cell-testing center.

Under the supply agreement, which has been extended from 2008 to 2015, Graftech will be the exclusive manufacturer and supplier of natural graphite-based materials for Ballard fuel cells. It is Ballard’s intent that Graftech be the exclusive manufacturer of all flexible graphite-based components that Ballard decides not to manufacture in-house. Under the agreements, Graftech has the right to manufacture and sell, after agreed-upon dates, natural graphite-based materials and certain components to other parties. In connection with the manufacture and sale of components, Ballard will grant Graftech a royalty-bearing license for related manufacturing process technology.

“Graftech’s advanced flexible graphite technologies and engineering capabilities will play a significant role in supporting the commercialization of Ballard fuel cells. As a long-term supplier to Ballard, Graftech has demonstrated its ability to provide us with a product that meets our needs. We are excited to be working together with Graftech to collaborate on the joint development of components that will allow us to further reduce our costs, improve performance and provide increased manufacturing capability,” stated Kip Smith, Ballard’s president and COO. “Ballard’s equity stake in Graftech confirms our commitment to the success of this collaboration.”