David P. Wilkinson


Associate Head | Canadian Research Chair in Clean Energy and Electrochemical Technologies (Tier 1)

Office: CHBE 239

Email: david.wilkinson@ubc.ca

Research Summary

Electrochemistry, electrocatalysis, electrochemical power sources, hydrogen production and storage, electrosynthesis, waste water and drinking water treatment, solar fuels, carbon dioxide and nitrogen conversion, clean and sustainable energy and water


University of Ottawa, 1987, Ph.D. (Chemistry)

University of British Columbia, 1978, B.A.Sc. (Chemical Engineering)

Research interests + projects

Our research interests are primarily focused on energy conversion and storage, and providing advanced sustainable solutions for energy and water use. Our research is primarily focused on the electrochemistry and electrochemical (and photoelectrochemical) engineering of energy conversion and storage, and water treatment. This involves research and development of materials and design from the nanoscale to the device level, and determining the functional relationships at different scales for rational design. We are mainly an experimental group but do some modeling to inform our research, and our research covers the range from fundamentals to applied technology. We have a strong interest in creating novel and innovative solutions that translate into tangible and impactful solutions for energy and sustainability. We maintain a strong link with industry to understand relevant issues and opportunities, and how our research can contribute to solutions. This is particularly important to reach the global NetZero 2050 plan for electrification and reduced climate change, where we have a strong focus on the hydrogen economy and battery systems.

Some Key Areas of Research and Expertise Contribution Follow:
Fuel Cell, Electrolyzer, and Battery Research
i) new materials and new approaches, ii) technology simplification, iii) new catalysis approaches, and iv) failure modes, durability, and accelerated testing methods.
Clean Energy and Fuels
i) electrochemical approaches to clean energy and fuels, ii) electrochemical carbon dioxide and nitrogen conversion, and solar fuels, iii) hydrogen production, storage and distribution.
Treatment of Waste Water and Drinking Water
i) advanced electrodialysis for brine treatment and desalination, ii) electrosynthesis of peroxide and ferrates, iii) capacitive deionization, and iv) high oxidation/power electrodes.
Current research activities/projects are focused on green hydrogen production via electrolysis, electrochemical ammonia synthesis, the electrochemistry of manganese oxides, high oxidation power electrodes, and advanced Li battery research, particularly the Li metal anode free approach.

Awards and honours

– SINCE 2013 –

Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Association Lifetime Achievement Award , 2013

International Grove Medal Award , 2014

R.S. Jane Memorial Award (National) , 2014

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher , 2014

Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) , 2014

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher , 2015

Inaugural BC Innovation Council (BCIC) Ignite Award , 2016

Deans Medal of Distinction (UBC 100 – centenary) , 2016

Technology Ambassador Award , 2016

Killam Research Award at UBC , 2018

Brentwood College Lifetime Achievement Award , 2018

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (Renewal), Clean Energy and Electrochemical Technologies , 2018

Final Grand Challenge Winner ($5 million CDN) of International Grand Challenge on GHG Reduction (Emissions Reduction Alberta – ERA) , 2019

Most Highly Cited Author (top 5%) – Royal Society of Chemistry Journals , 2019

Inaugural National Research Council Canada Challenge Program (Materials for Clean Fuels) Awardee , 2020

World’s Top Scientists (top 2 % of most-cited scientists in respective subfields) , 2020

Order of Canada , 2020

University of Ottawa Alumni Award of Excellence (Science) , 2021

Gold Medal Award (Cdn Section) of the Electrochemical Society, 2022

Scholarly and professional activities + affiliations

MEMBER, (Previously Executive Director), UBC Clean Energy Research Centre (CERC)

MEMBER, UBC Advanced Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory

P. Eng., Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia

FELLOW, Engineering Institute of Canada

FELLOW, Canadian Academy of Engineering

FELLOW, Chemical Institute of Canada

FELLOW, Royal Society of Canada

American Chemical Society

Electrochemical Society

International Society of Electrochemistry

Full publications link

Full Patent List (Over 80 issued US patents)

Selected publications + presentations

W. Bi, N. Shaigan, A. Malek, K. Fatih, E. Gyenge and D.P. Wilkinson, PEM fuel cell design and operation for the electrosynthesis of ammonia: status and prospects, Energy Environmental Science, 15, 2288 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1039/D2EE00953F

I. Stosevski, A. Bonakdarpour, B. Fang, P. Lo and D.P. Wilkinson, Formation of MnxZny (OH)zSO4.5H2O – not intercalation of Zn – is the basis of the neutral MnO2/Zn battery first discharge reaction, Electrochimica Acta, 390, 138852 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electacta.2021.138852

H. Wu, C. Feng, L. Zhang, J. Zhang and D.P. Wilkinson, Non-noble metal electrocatalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction in water electrolysis, Electrochemical Energy Reviews, 1-35 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41918-020-00086-z

P.J. Petzold, JTH Kwan, A. Bonakdarpour and D.P. Wilkinson, Deconvoluting reversible and irreversible degradation phenomena in OER catalyst coated membranes using a modified RDE technique, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 168 (2), 026507 (2021). https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1149/1945-7111/abde7d

K. Reilly, B.Fang, F. Fariborz and D.P. Wilkinson, Simple and scalable synthesis of vertically-aligned anatase nanowires for enhanced photoelectrochemical performance, ACS Applied Energy Materials, 3(9), pp 8317-8329 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1021/acsaem.0c00886

S. Dara, A. Bonakdarpour, M. Ho, R. Govindarajan and D.P. Wilkinson, Conversion of saline waste-water and gaseous carbon dioxide to (bi)carbonate salts, hydrochloric acid and desalinated water for on-site industrial utilization, Reaction Chemistry and Engineering, 4(1), pp 141-150 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1039/C8RE00259B