Dr Dmitri Bessarabov

Director: DST HySA Infrastructure Center of Competence

Dr. Dmitri Bessarabov joined DST HySA Infrastructure Center of Competence at NWU and CSIR in 2010. He was recruited for a position from Canada. He is an internationally-recognised scientist with academic and industrial decision-making experience in the area of hydrogen and electro-catalytic membrane systems for energy applications and fuel cells. Dmitri has over fifteen years of progressively increasing responsibility in academic and industrial R&D environment and leadership roles in the hydrogen energy sector in Canada and South Africa. He is a strategic and creative thinker with a proven ability to identify problems, propose and implement solutions. Dmitri is passionate about PEM fuel cells, electrolysers and membranes. His current responsibilities include: Leadership in the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Programme (HySA). HySA Infrastructure Business Plan development and implementation and providing excellence in research, development and management. He is currently also leading PEM electrolyser development projects at HySA  Infrastructure which include establishment of technology platforms for electrolyser development, related characterisation tools, electrochemical hydrogen compression and hydrogen production using renewables.


Dmitri received his fundamental training in chemistry at the renowned Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia (M.Sc., 1991). He continued to improve his qualifications at the Russian Academy of Sciences in membrane gas separations at the Topchiev Institute of Petrochemical Synthesis of Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1993 he joined PhD program at the Institute for Polymer Science, University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He received his PhD in 1996 specialising in membrane technology for gas separation. The SA Chemical Institute awarded Dmitri a “SASOL Medal for the best PhD in the field for the year” in 1997. His post-doctoral research at the University of Stellenbosch was in the area of electro-catalytic membrane systems and electrochemical ozone generation (1997-1998), for which NRF granted him “Y” rating. In 1999 Dmitri was appointed senior lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch at Chemistry Department. In 2001 Dmitri joined Aker Kvaerner Chemetics in Vancouver, Canada, to work in the area of membrane technology for chlor-alkali industry. In 2006 Dmitri joined Ballard Power Systems in Canada (and afterwards AFCC – Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation Corp) where he was leading an R&D group on MEA Integration and Evaluation. His main areas of professional interest include: Fuel cells, PEM Electrolysis, Hydrogen energy, Hydrogen Storage, Hydrogen Infrastructure, Membranes, Separations, Applied Electrochemistry, Applied Polymer Science, Environmental technologies, Water Treatment, Post-graduate training in Applied Chemistry (Membrane and Electrochemical Technology), International co-operation in membrane and electrochemical research.

Recent Publications

Z. Twardowski, T. Drackett, D. Bessarabov, P. Fetissoff, Apparatus and method for osmotic membrane distillation, US Patent, 7361276, 2008

S. Kundu, M. Cimenti, S. Lee, D. Bessarabov, Fingerprint of the automotive fuel cell cathode catalyst degradation: Pt band in the proton-exchange membranes, Membrane Technology, 2009, 7-10

Dmitri Bessarabov and Adam P. Hitchcock, Advances in structural and chemical analysis of fuel cell catalyst-coated membranes (CCM) for hydrogen fuel cell applications, Membrane Technology, 2009, 6-12

S. Lee, D. Bessarabov, R. Vohra, Degradation of a cathode catalyst layer in PEM MEAs subjected to automotive specific test conditions, International Journal of Green Energy, 2009, 6, 594–606

N. Astrath, J. Shen, F. Astrath, J. Zhou, C. Huang, X. Yuan, H. Wang, T. Navessin, Z.-Sheng Liu, G. Vlajnic, D. Bessarabov, and X. Zhao, Determination of effective gas diffusion coefficients of stainless steel films with differently shaped holes using a Loschmidt diffusion cell, Review of Scientific Instruments, 2010, 81 (4), 046104, doi:10.1063/1.3385673

D. Mayer, S. Kundu, C. Elvidge, J. Stumper, D. Bessarabov, Fingerprints of automotive fuel cell degradation, 2010, ECS Transactions, 28 (23), pp. 127-135

M. Cimenti, D. Bessarabov, M. Tam, J. Stumper, Investigation of proton transport in the catalyst layer of PEM fuel cells by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, 2010, ECS Transactions, 28 (23), pp. 147-157

D. Susac, J. Wang, Z. Martin, A. Hitchcock, J. Stumper, D. Bessarabov, Chemical fingerprint associated with the formation of Pt in the membrane in PEM fuel cells, 2010, ECS Transactions, 33 (1 PART 1), pp. 391-398

C. Lei, D. Bessarabov, S. Ye, Z. Xie, S. Holdcroft, T. Navessin, Low equivalent weight short-side-chain perfluorosulfonic acid ionomers in fuel cell cathode catalyst layers, Journal of Power Sources, 2011, 196 (15), pp. 6168-6176

J. Shen, J. Zhou, N.G.C. Astrath, T. Navessin, Z.-S. Liu, C. Lei, J.H. Rohling, D. Bessarabov, S. Knights, S. Ye, Measurement of effective gas diffusion coefficients of catalyst layers of PEM fuel cells with a Loschmidt diffusion cell, Journal of Power Sources, 2011, 196 (2), pp. 674-678

J. Kerres, A. Chromik, K. Krajinovic, A. Katzfuss, C. Seyb, K. Aniol, V. Atanasov, T. Kaz, T. Haering, A. Kruger, H. Schoeman, D. Bessarabov, H. Krieg, Monomers, Polymers and Cross-Linked Membranes for Membrane Fuel Cells and Electrolysis, ECS Transactions, 2011, 41 (1) 1621-1632

D. Bessarabov, S. McDermid, S. Kundu, S. Lee, Membrane electrode assembly comprising a catalyst migration barrier layer, US Patent application 20110256466, 2011

D. Bessarabov, Gas Permeability of Proton Exchange Membranes, Chapter 21, in: PEM Fuel Cell Diagnostic Tools ,Editor(s): Haijiang Wang, National Research Council Canada, Vancouver, Canada; Xiao-Zi Yuan, National Research Council Canada, Vancouver, Canada; Hui Li, National Research Council Canada, Vancouver, Canada, CRC Press, Pages: 443-473, Publication Date: August, 2011

Viatcheslav Berejnov, Zulima Martin, Marcia West, Sumit Kundu, Dmitri Bessarabov, Jürgen Stumper, Darija Susac and Adam P. Hitchcock, Probing platinum degradation in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells by synchrotron Xray microscopy, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2012, 14, 4835-4843

Dmitri Bessarabov, Frik van Niekerk, Frikkie van der Merwe, Manie Vosloo, Brian North, Mkhulu Mathe, Hydrogen Infrastructure within HySA National Program in South Africa: road map and specific needs, Energy Procedia, 29, 2012, 42 – 52

Igor V. Bodrenko, Alexander V. Avdeenkov, Dmitri G. Bessarabov, Anton V. Bibikov, Alexander V. Nikolaev, Mikhail D. Taran , Eugene V. Tkalya, Hydrogen Storage in Aromatic Carbon Ring Based Molecular Materials Decorated with Alkali or Alkali-Earth Metals, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2012, DOI: 10.1021/jp305324p