Hydrogen Powered Forklifts Viable Before Autos

Heavy machinery used in warehouses could establish a strong presence in the hydrogen and fuel cell market long before regular automobiles join the hydrogen highway. General Motors of Canada and Hydrogenics demonstrated a hydrogen-fuel cell powered forklift at the GM facility in Canada, which also happens to have an onsite HyLYZER hydrogen fueling station.

The HyLYZER refueling station is compact with easy connection points, and it can be transported easily from site to site, according to Hydrogenics. The station can produce a variable amount of hydrogen, depending on requirements, and it can refuel a forklift in a fraction of the time that the batteries can be changed or recharged on a battery-powered unit. “Currently, industrial vehicles contribute almost 13 percent of the global total of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions,” said Pierre Rivard, president and CEO of Hydrogenics. “We believe that one of the first commercial uses for hydrogen powered-vehicles will be in industrial vehicle fleets, such as forklifts, where dedicated on-site refuelling stations can meet immediate refuelling needs. We have always known that being environmentally friendly is not enough on its own to sell this technology. It simply has to be better than what people use now.” Hydrogenics is leading a consortium of partners to develop, demonstrate and move fuel cell-powered forklifts toward commercialization. Consortium members include Deere & Company, FedEx Canada, General Motors of Canada, NACCO Materials Handling Group and the Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance. The project is partially funded with a CAD 1.45 million (US $1.17 million) contribution from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). SDTC is a foundation created by the Government of Canada that operates a $550 million fund to support the development and demonstration of clean technologies that address issues of climate change, clean air, water and soil quality. “This trial of hydrogen-powered forklift trucks at GM’s car plant in Oshawa is just one example of the steps GM and its partners are taking as we head down the road to the hydrogen economy,” said David Paterson, vice- president, corporate and environmental affairs, GM Canada. “Demonstration projects like this are critical to the development of fuel cell technology. With predictable duty cycles, lift trucks are an ideal application from which to learn, and a large plant like ours, where external elements are not a factor, is an ideal place in which to conduct a trial like this.”
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