Prof Dmitri Bessarabov

Director: DST HySA Infrastructure Center of Competence

Prof. Dmitri Bessarabov joined DST HySA Infrastructure Center of Competence at NWU and CSIR in 2010. He was recruited for a position from Canada. An internationally-recognised visionary with extensive industrial, academic and financial decision-making experience in the area of hydrogen for energy applications, electrolysis and fuel cells in Canada and South Africa.

Successfully built and managed large (up to 25 plus head-count) teams of academics and engineers with deep technical capabilities. Strategic and creative thinker, director with a proven ability to identify problems, propose and implement solutions and lead and manage multidisciplinary teams.

Twenty plus years of progressively increasing responsibility in academic and industrial R&D environment, leadership and managerial roles in the hydrogen energy sector.

Deep understanding of fuel cells and electrolysers components requirements and needs in terms of characterisation, durability and structure-performance relationship.

Vast network of electrolyser and FC-related supply chain. Experience with Government negotiations. Deep knowledge of university and national lab activities relevant to fuel cell R&D world-wide.

Unquestioned integrity and the ability to make and keep commitments. Comfortable in dealing with ambiguity and risk.

Passionate about PEM fuel cells, electrolysers, membranes, MEAs and catalyst layers structures. Brings top-notch competitive international technical and managerial industrial experience to South Africa to lead and implement National HySA Program and build local human capital capacity. NRF rated scientist.

Current responsibilities include: building effective teams with deep technical capabilities and managing these teams, mentoring and guiding. Providing excellence in management, research and product development. HySA Infrastructure Business Plan and Road Map development and implementation.

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. Supply-chain and business development, earlier engagement of industry into development and commercialisation activities. USD 3.0-4.0 mln plus annual budget responsibility and accountability.


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. He is currently C-rated by NRF.

Recent Publications

See list here: Scopus Author ID: 55917816200

Notable scholarly books and book chapters:

D. Bessarabov, Gas Permeability of Proton Exchange Membranes, Chapter 21, in: PEM Fuel Cell Diagnostic Tools , Editor(s): Haijiang Wang,  Xiao-Zi Yuan, Hui Li, CRC Press, 2011, ISBN:  9781439839195, ISBN 10:  1439839190, Pages: 443-473, Publication Date:  August, 2011.

Bessarabov, H. Wang, H. Li, and N. Zhao (Eds): PEM Electrolysis for Hydrogen Production: Principles and Applications. CRC Press., 2015. ISBN-10: 1482252295. ISBN-13: 978-1482252293. 389 Pages.

Dmitri Bessarabov, Pierre Millet, Series Editor: Bruno Pollet, PEM Water Electrolysis, Volume 1, 1st Edition, Academic Press, Elsevier, 2018 Dmitri Bessarabov, Pierre Millet, Series Editor: Bruno Pollet, PEM Water Electrolysis, Volume 2, 1st Edition, Academic Press, Elsevier, 2018

Dmitri Bessarabov, Chapter 8: Other Polymer Membrane Electrolysis Processes in: Electrochemical Methods for Hydrogen Production, Editor: Keith Scott, RSC Energy and Environment Series, 2020-January, pp. 286-305.