Fuel Cell Pioneer Dies

TORONTO-Geoff Ballard, a Canadian pioneer of the fuel cell industry and an entrepreneur Time Magazine once named one of its "Heroes for the Planet," has died. He was 76. Ballard died Saturday. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Ballard developed the world's first hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered, zero-emission transit bus. Science World, a science center in Vancouver, British Columbia, unveiled the vehicle in 1993.

In 1979, Ballard founded Ballard Power Systems Inc., which makes hydrogen fuel cells that are used in material handling, residential co-generation, backup power and transportation. He served as chairman of the company until 1997.

In 1999, he started General Hydrogen, which was bought by Plug Power Inc. last year for $10 million.

"His name will forever be associated with this company's fuel cell products, which are being deployed as an energy source for applications in a growing number of important global markets," John Sheridan, Ballard's president and CEO said in statement.

In 1999, Time magazine named Ballard as one of its "Heroes for the Planet," alongside the environmental work of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his partner John Cronin. In the article, Ballard called skeptics of his fuel-cell vision "pistonheads," and said the company was decades away from making alternative energy cars affordable.

In his early career, Ballard worked for Mobil Oil and the U.S. Army before reportedly opening a restaurant to fund his research in rechargeable battery technology.

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