Distinguished Speaker Seminar Sep 29 – Shanna Knights

Title: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology and Commercialization: A Key Piece in the Global Decarbonization Puzzle.

Date and Time: Friday, September 29. Refreshments served at 12:45 p.m. Seminar starts at 1 p.m.

Location: CHBE 102 (2360 East Mall)


Many solutions will be needed to decarbonize the global energy sector. Hydrogen is a key piece in the climate solution puzzle, providing zero emissions technology for hard-to-abate sectors, such as heavy-duty transportation. Hydrogen fuel cell technology has been proven in commercial operation and has accumulated significant operational, reliability, and durability data. In 2021, over 80,000 fuel cell units were shipped globally, equating to over 2,000 MW of power. Of that, over 85% was for the transportation sector. Over 36 countries, including Canada, have implemented hydrogen strategies, based on the realization of the need for this critical technology. British Columbia is recognized as a global leader in hydrogen and fuel cell research, development, and commercialization, with a strong local hydrogen ecosystem and government support. As of 2021, in the BC Hydrogen Fuel Cell sector, there were 30+ companies, employing 1,900 people, and earning $375MM in revenues. Products sold powered >4500 trucks and buses worldwide.

While fuel cell technology continues to improve and costs have been significantly reduced, there are still technical, cost, and scale-up challenges to be addressed. This talk will focus on fuel cell technology and commercialization, with comparisons to other zero-carbon technologies and the relative advantages of each for different industry sectors. The status of the technology will be discussed along with technical challenges, recent advancements, and key areas for ongoing research.


SHANNA KNIGHTS, PEng, MASc, FCAE, is a chemical engineer with 35 years of research engineering, project management, and leadership experience in the Environmental and Clean Energy industries. She worked as a research engineer and project manager at BC Research Inc. from 1988 to 1995 developing several waste management processes. From 1995 to 2023, Ms. Knights conducted and led fuel cell research at Ballard Power Systems for many zero emissions applications, including commercial truck, bus, and other motive and stationary power applications. She led Ballard’s components technology R&D activities, innovation initiatives, and external technical collaborations in her most recent roles of Director of Research and Director of Technology Collaborations. Ms. Knights is an author on numerous scientific journal publications and 3 book chapters, and holds 25 patents. She has guided collaborative research through numerous advisory boards and steering committees. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, holds the Engineering BC R.A. McLachlan Memorial Award for significant technical contributions, professional leadership, and community service (2017), is a YWCA Research & the Sciences Woman of Distinction nominee (2019), and was awarded the UBC Faculty of Applied Science Dean’s Medal of Distinction (2021).