The Pajarito Powder team brings extensive experience from both fuel cell startups and the industry as a whole, from theoretical and practical applications in research, and finally from manufacturing and business development. Pajarito Powder is poised for success, given its world-class Technical Advisory Board, experienced Board of Managers, a Chairman & CEO with a successful fuel cell exit and a CTO & President with extensive catalyst engineering experience.
All contribute to the effort to produce advanced Engineered Catalyst Supports (ECSs) for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), as well as Precious-Metal Free (PMF) catalysts for other fuel cell applications, at a fraction of the historical cost while optimizing performance. Pajarito Powder’s patented VariPore™ process is readily-scaled for high-volume manufacturing – the condition ultimately necessary for cost-effective, widespread fuel cell adoption.
Thomas J. Stephenson
CEO & Chairman
Prior to co-founding Pajarito Powder in the spring of 2012, Mr. Stephenson was a co-founder of the Verge Fund in 2003, and currently serves as Managing General Partner in addition to his responsibilities at Pajarito Powder. Mr. Stephenson has worked with a number of companies in the energy industry, including current and past Verge portfolio companies Altela and Wellkeeper, and was previously on the Board of Directors of LabStart, a joint-venture entity created to assist in commercialization of technologies from Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the sources of technology for Pajarito Powder. He previously served as a director and the lead investor for Mesofuel, a start-up company commercializing novel hydrogen reforming technologies for the fuel cell industry. Mr. Stephenson has a B.A. in Physics from Rice University and an M.B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Barr Zulevi
CTO & President
Prior to becoming the Chief Technology Officer and President of Pajarito Powder, Dr. Barr Zuevi was a Research Assistant professor at the University of New Mexico and participated in the research and development of Precious-Metal-Free (PMF) catalysts. He is a named co-inventor on numerous UNM patent applications, presentations, and publications as well as for being a participant of the DOE EERE program “Development of Novel PMF Electrocatalysts for PEM Fuel Cell Applications.” He is an experienced materials scientist and developer of fuel-cell anode and other heterogeneous catalysts, with associated authorships of peer-reviewed publications, presentations, and patent applications.
Dr. Alexey Serov
Dr. Serov is the primary inventor of the formulations upon which Pajarito Powder’s products are based, and is one of the world’s leading PMF catalyst researchers. As a Research Assistant Professor of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering at the University of New Mexico, he is a named inventor of five of the patents underlying Pajarito Powder’s technology, as well as an author or co-author of numerous associated peer-reviewed publications, with several additional publications in progress.
Douglas Penner, CPA CMA
Chief Financial Officer
Mr Penner is a 20+ year veteran of financial management positions in a wide variety of technology startups and large non-profit organizations. Mr Penner’s experience as a CFO ranges from hardware to physical science companies, along with extensive Federal contract management experience.
Board of Managers
Thomas J. Stephenson,
Dr. J. Byron McCormick
Dr. McCormick is widely regarded as one of the ‘founding fathers’ of modern mobile hydrogen fuel cells. He began his career in the Electronics Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked with many talented and mission-driven scientists on fuel cell technology. Dr. McCormick’s leap of considering fuel cells, which had played in a role in getting a rocket to the moon, for use in automobiles, was borne of a desire to avoid another energy crisis like that of the late 1970’s. Dr. McCormick founded the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cells for Transportation program, where research in PEM fuel cell technology for future automotive applications was developed and funded.
Dr. McCormick worked at General Motors for three decades, where he formed and was Managing Director of Delco Propulsion Systems which developed and commercialized the integrated electric propulsion systems, subsystems and componentry for GM’s EV1 and S10 electric vehicles. Subsequently forming and leading GM’s Global Alternative Propulsion Systems organization which was responsible for all aspects of GM’s hydrogen and fuel cell development activities worldwide, Dr. McCormick, transitioned these activities into the main operating divisions of the Corporation in preparation for the upcoming launch of GM’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Dr. McCormick retired from GM in 2008 and consults for various governments and corporations globally on sustainable energy initiatives through Prepared Minds International.
Mr. Short was a co-founder of Pajarito Powder, along with Mr. Stephenson. Mr. Short holds a BS and an MS in Electrical Engineering from New Mexico State University, and held positions with both NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory and Honeywell as a Principal Engineer. Later he founded InnovASIC, a design services company that developed integrated circuits for other companies. Mr. Short later evolved InnovASIC from a services firm to a semiconductor producer that designs, manufactures, and sells integrated circuits, earning over $5 million in revenue during a period of industry contraction. He was also the founder of Metaphor Computing and Chief Operating Officer of Altela, a water treatment equipment manufacturer. At Altela, he led the team that designed, manufactured, installed and tested the next generation product, generating $1.6M in revenue in one year.
Technical Advisory Board
Pajarito Powder has a world-class Technical Advisory Board that drives the company’s technology and product to be of the highest performance and durability, while meeting the price and manufacturability targets required by industry.
Dr. Piotr Zelenay, Chairman
Dr. Zelenay is a prominent expert in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells and a Team Leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). He has led the electrocatalysis and direct methanol fuel cell research at LANL for the past 12 years. With more than 100 research articles in renowned scientific journals,15 fuel cell patents or applications, and 20 fuel cell and electrocatalysis research projects, Dr. Zelenay is recognized as a world leader in fuel cell technologies. In June 2010, he was a recipient of the United States Department of Energy’s Hydrogen Program R&D Award, In Recognition of Outstanding Contributions to Fuel Cell Technologies.
Dr. Plamen Atanassov
Dr. Atanassov has over 25 years of experience in industry and academia, focusing on materials processing and electrochemistry relating to fuel cells. He was a Director of the NSF Industry/University Collaborative Research Center, and later the founder of the UNM Center for Emerging Energy Technologies. Dr. Atanassov’s research programs include development of PMF electrocatalysts for fuel cells, new materials and technologies for micro-power sources, enzymatic bio-fuel cells, designs for sensor systems and integrations of micro-analytical systems.
Dr. Scott Calabrese Barton
Calabrese Barton is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Michigan State University. His research group studies new electrocatalysts, materials, and electrode design for both fuel cells and chemical conversion. Transition metal electrocatalysts are studied for fuel cell and electrochemical conversion applications. Bioconversion involving enzyme electrocatalysts are also studied as a means of producing value-added chemicals from renewable resources. To this end, regeneration of enzyme cofactors and high-surface Carbon materials are developed for immobilization of enzymes, catalysts, and cofactors. Throughout this work, mathematical models promote understanding of electrochemical kinetics and transport, leading to tools for analysis and optimization of novel electrode architectures. Dr. Calabrese Barton received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University in 1999, after studying aerospace engineering at Notre Dame and MIT. He is the recipient of a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation and a Petroleum Research Fund award from the American Chemical Society.
Dr. Jean-Pol Dodelet
Jean-Pol Dodelet is Professor of Physical Chemistry at L’Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS, Canada). After receiving his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry in 1969 from L’Universite Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) he became a Postdoctoral Fellow and then Research Associate in Radiation Chemistry at the University of Alberta (Canada). In 1976, he became Professor of Physical Chemistry at L’Universite du Quebec a Trois Rivieres (Canada), where he worked until 1981 on the photoconducting properties of molecular photoconductors, before he took his current position. At INRS, he first continued his work on molecular photoconductors before becoming interested, in 1990, in non-noble metal electrocatalysts, the research area where he is still active today. In the last several years, Dr. Dodelet collaborated with General Motors in the frame of an Industrial Research Chair in electrocatalysis, sponsored by General Motors of Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Dr. Sanjeev Mukerjee
Dr. Sanjeev Mukerjee is a full professor of physical/materials chemistry in the College of Science and Director of the Laboratory for Electrochemical Advanced Power (LEAP) at Northeastern University. Dr. Mukerjee’s research involves an interdisciplinary approach, encompassing the areas of solid state chemistry, spectroscopy, and electrochemistry of electrode materials for electrochemical energy conversion and storage. The current focus is on technologies for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and for batteries, which include: electrocatalysis of Oxygen reduction, CO tolerance and methanol oxidation reactions, elevated temperature polymer electrolyte membranes, advanced rechargeable batteries with nickel metal hydrides and lithium insertion electrodes for lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries. Dr. Mukerjee received his PhD from Texas A&M University and his M. Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He is the 2013 recipient of the NEU Excellence in Research and Creativity Award.
Omphalos Venture Partners, LLC
A Minneapolis, Minnesota based venture fund, founded and managed by successful entrepreneurs, that seeks investment opportunities in early stage companies developing disruptive technologies, and led by driven entrepreneurs with vision. Omphalos Venture Partners currently holds investment in Education, Medical Device, Health Services, Bio Sensor Technology, Nano Particle Technology, Environmental, Manufacturing, B2B and B2C. Click here to learn more about Omphalos Venture Partners.
Verge Fund is a highly motivated venture capital fund that invests in seed-stage, high-growth ventures. This partnership focuses on opportunities at the earliest stages of their development, even if the business plan hasn’t been fully built out. Click here to learn more about Verge Fund.