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Download Powering the Future: The Ballard Fuel Cell and the Race to Change the World epub

by Tom Koppel

Powering the Future tells the intriguing story of a tiny high-tech research company that developed one of the few truly revolutionary and transforming technologies of our era. Today, Ballard Power Systems is the world leader in fuel cell technology — a non-polluting energy source that could one day replace the internal combustion engine and power the cars of the future.

Geoffrey Ballard and a handful of colleagues — at the outset little more than "three guys and a prayer" — brought this neglected technology to the world. On gritty determination and a shoestring budget, they took fuel cells out of the lab and into the mainstream of business. They made the fuel cell smaller, cheaper, and vastly more powerful over an astonishingly short time — actually melting down cables as they realized a fifty-fold increase in power output.

Powering the Future not only chronicles the company's impressive rise against stiff odds and intense competition; it also teaches valuable lessons about vision and inspiration, creating a culture of loyalty and dedication, attracting and keeping talented people, and marketing and selling an underdog technology to the biggest players in the auto world. Powering the Future is the entertaining and inspirational account of how a tiny high-tech research company grew, and became poised to literally change the way we live.

Download Powering the Future: The Ballard Fuel Cell and the Race to Change the World epub
ISBN: 0471646296
ISBN13: 978-0471646297
Category: History
Subcategory: Europe
Author: Tom Koppel
Language: English
Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 9, 2001)
Pages: 288 pages
ePUB size: 1932 kb
FB2 size: 1143 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 562
Other Formats: txt mobi lrf doc

This is a fascinating book for people who are interested in technology as well as in enviroment. It is easy to read and to understand. In a lively way it tells us the story (always a "mystery") how a group of determined people are able to achive a technological break through and financial success. More than that: It gives us an idea how a technology, the fuell cell, is working and the way in which this technology will change our living in the cities within the comming decades: Cars moving around without pollution and without noise! It probably will be great funn.
It was a pleasure reading this book. It actually enlarged my horizon.
happy light
Founder Geoff Ballard lived by the words "Dare to be in a hurry to change things for the better." Powering the Future is a story about Geoff Ballard and a small team of people that stuck together and pioneered PEM fuel cell technology. Ballard, the company, does not endorse the book because of the bad blood that existed between the new leadership and the old guard. It's hard to say who was right but the survival of the fuel cell required partnering with companies like DaimlerChrysler and Ford Motor Company. It also required a lot of PR talent that the the founder did not have. The book has an excellent overview of how a fuel cell works. Once you read it you will learn how fuel cells work and how the hydrogen economy can one day transform the world. Ballard, the company, continues to have awesome potential and a lot of talented people working there. I know because I work there too.
At one point many people (myself included) thought fuel cells would continue to improve and one day drive cars down the world's roads. The prediction was always for just 10 more years. Then fuel cells would power the future.

This book was written during that more hopeful time when Ballard's stock price was looking as rosy as the future. Events have dimmed the luster of fuel cells. Geoffrey Ballard has died, and the Ballard company he founded has largely gone bust. No one but the most optimistic now think fuel cell cars will get out of the million-dollar prototype stage any time soon. If ever.

So predictions for the future change. But the past does not change. Read as history, Powering the Future still reads well. It gives a good glimpse into how technology develops, and how important people are to the process. Tom Koppel tells the story of how Geoffrey Ballard and his early partners struggled to bring fuel cell technology from the fringes to the mainstream.

None of us can predict the future. Neither can Koppel. Time proved that. But Koppel has a good eye for human personalities as well as for technology. He writes well too. That makes even this dated book worth reading.
This is a good book about Ballard Fuel Cell Company. It tells the story about taking the fuel-cell technology for electricity production from an oddity used in space to mass-market commercialization. The process is still going on so the book cannot conclude that Ballard has reached their goal, but the book does a good job explaining how Ballard reached their current state.
From a technical point of view one can argue that the author focuses too much on fuel cell development and too little on the necessary hydrogen delivery infrastructure, which is required to operate the fuel cells.
The book is also a good study in growing a start-up company. It shows how the founding entrepreneur pushes the idea forward until the company reaches a size where people with other qualities are needed to run the company. It shows how a company with hardly any products on the market can retain the public interest by carefully manage the information flow. Finally the book shows that it is possible for a relative small company to start development relationships with big multinational companies and still retain most of their independence.
I believe Mr. Koppel had a tough choice in crafting book - how to tell the story of the company and the personalities involved, while at the same time explain the technology - which is quite fascinating and a topic of its own. To achieve this and not end up with a 1000 page text is a hard thing to do.
However - I wish they had made a choice on covering one topic and doing it justice - in this case the story of the company and the personalities involved. Koppel managed to gloss over ...some (to me) very significant episodes in the history of the firm. Perhaps he was not privy to all the details - but that in itself is a confusing issue as well. It seems he had access to Geoffrey Ballard and Fairoz Rasul - but does mention that Rasul told him that Ballard Power Systems would not assist in the creation of this book. The timing of this statement is not clear - did it happen while the book was being researched or after or before?
This also leads to another problem in the accounts - they are very Geoffrey Ballard centric and as the book explains - Ballard was a powerful personality and therefore (assumption here) prone to being very opinionated. One wonders how much of the other 2 sides of the story ... we are missing.
Furthermore, Ballard was not actively involved in the company when it really made its transformation from R&D focused niche player to commercial entity. That period, to me as a student of organizational behaviour, would have been very rich in detail on how the company managed the change, got the message across, set its strategy, executed at the tactical level, protected its interests, won or lost on the issues, etc. All of that is given a summary passing over "obstacles were overcome ...", "effeciencies were increased...", etc.
That left me sort of hanging. I commend the book for taking on a very rich subject and trying to navigate the highlights. But that tactic left me just short of being really enlightened about either fuel cell technology or growing a small niche business into a viable commercial entity. Thus the mediocre score.