|The H2 Hyster Forklift|
Hydrogenics Corporation announced the successful completion of trials of its fuel cell forklift at GM of Canada’s car assembly plant in Oshawa and FedEx Canada’s logistics hub at Toronto International Airport. (Earlier post.)
Hydrogenics designed, built and integrated 10-kW fuel cell power packs to replace the lead-acid batteries in two Hyster Class 1, 5,500-lb sit-rider forklifts provided by NACCO Materials Handling Group. The forklifts were placed into service at two indoor multi-shift operations. In addition, Hydrogenics designed and built an indoor, PEM electrolyzer hydrogen refueler that was used to refuel the forklifts during the deployments.
We gained real world learning’s for this near-term application as our forklifts operated full-time for three months in rigorous operations, with virtually no maintenance downtime. Just as important, they finished the trials at the same high level of performance as they began.—Pierre Rivard, President and CEO, Hydrogenics
The use of lead-acid batteries in multi-shift indoor materials-handling operations creates several operational issues, including a marked decrease in forklift power prior to shift-end, loss of productivity due to battery change-out time, and significant dedicated space and staffing for battery management. In addition, 24-hour operations require as many as three batteries per vehicle to cover the full shift rotation, contributing to ongoing capital cost infusions and battery disposal problems.
The field trials of the hydrogen fuel cell forklifts successfully addressed all of those issues. The forklifts were operating at full power at the beginning and end of each shift, and were also refueled by the forklift operators, as needed, in two minutes or less from Hydrogenics’ indoor refueling station.
The multi-billion dollar annual forklift market is positioned as an early adopter of fuel cell technology. Initial adoption is anticipated in multi-shift indoor operations that deploy a fleet of material handling vehicles. More than 300,000 new battery-powered material handling vehicles are purchased globally every year.
Other firms, including Toyota Industrial, are exploring the hydrogen fuel cell forklift market. (Earlier post.)
Hydrogenics plans to package the results of its pilot project in a white paper to be published later this year.