Ballard Enters Agreement With UCAR

September 09, 1999 by Jeff Shepard

Ballard Power Systems (British Columbia, Canada) announced that it has signed a long-term agreement with UCAR International Inc. (Nashville, TN) for the joint development and exclusive supply of GRAFOIL Flexible Graphite for Ballard fuel cells. Flexible graphite is claimed to be a key material in the manufacture of flow field plates for fuel cells.Flow field plates help direct the movement of hydrogen and oxygen molecules within the fuel cell, disperse waste heat, and capture and transmit the electricity carried by the fuel cell. UCAR has developed proprietary materials that Ballard uses in flow field plates made of flexible graphite sheets. These materials offer high electrical conductivity and are lightweight and cost effective. UCAR has been working with Ballard for the past 7 years in developing flexible graphite-based material for use as flow field plates in PEM fuel cells.UCAR also announced that it has organized its flexible graphite business into a newly formed, wholly owned subsidiary, UCAR Graph-Tech Inc. The business currently has annual sales of approximately $35 million. This business operates at UCAR's Cleveland, OH manufacturing facility and includes the research and development activity related to this business conducted at UCAR's Parma, OH technology center.During the collaboration period, UCAR and Ballard have agreed to cooperate with each other, exclusively, in the research and development of flow field plates using flexible graphite. Ballard has also agreed that UCAR will be its exclusive supplier of those materials for use in flow field plates. UCAR expects substantial sales growth beginning in 2003. The agreements contain customary product pricing and delivery, technology and licensing, termination and other provisions."Working with Ballard, we have developed flexible graphite which has achieved the key objectives and design specifications for flow field plates in the PEM fuel cell," stated Mr. Playford. He added, "Under out strategic alliance with Ballard, we are already working on the next generation flow field plates. We believe that we will be able to meet the targeted objectives and specifications."