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Air Products and Suzuki Shokan jointly to develop hydrogen fueling for Japan’s material handling market

Air Products and Suzuki Shokan, an industrial gas company based in Tokyo, will work together on the design, construction and operation of hydrogen fueling stations for use in fueling the material handling vehicle market in Japan. Air Products and Suzuki Shokan will take Air Products’ proven hydrogen fueling technology and work jointly to make any needed infrastructure modifications in order to meet Japanese laws and regulations.

As part of their alliance, the companies also agreed to a standard Equipment, Engineering and License for Suzuki Shokan’s purchase and use of key equipment to be supplied by Air Products for the implementation of Air Products’ SmartFuel hydrogen fueling station technology.

Japan’s keen interest in hydrogen fueling for the automotive market provides a natural extension to hydrogen fueling for material handling. Working with Suzuki Shokan, we can meet the needs of this market.

—Ed Kiczek, global business director – Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products

Kiczek added that the partners are already in discussion with multiple high-profile customers for the first deployment.

We believe that the execution of this agreement is a significant step towards the upcoming hydrogen society. Suzuki Shokan possesses hydrogen handling technology and know-how through a long history of supplying the hydrogen business. Such technology and know-how includes engineering, equipment and parts design, construction of piping and knowledge about laws and safety regulations. It is our understanding that fully utilizing such technology, know-how, nationwide sales and marketing resources acquired in our long history, in conjunction with Air Products’ most advanced technology, will make fuel cell powered forklifts steadily accepted by the Japanese market.

—Yoji Koguchi, managing director in charge of Toyota Factory

Koguchi added that the driving power for the material handling vehicle (forklift) market in Japan is being shifted from internal combustion engines to batteries which are considered environmentally cleaner. Development and practical use of fuel cells in material handling applications have already started in the country.

There are many advantages to using hydrogen-powered forklifts and material handling equipment. Hydrogen-powered equipment can be quickly refueled in just minutes, only needs refueling once or twice daily depending on use, and does not require change-out downtime, while traditional battery-powered equipment is taken out of operation for battery replacement or recharging approximately every four to six hours.

Hydrogen-powered equipment provides consistent power during use and does not experience decreased performance or wear down as battery units do when nearing change-out or recharge time. Additionally, unlike battery-powered forklifts, hydrogen-powered fuel cells are not adversely impacted by temperature when operating in coolers and freezers. Further, hydrogen-powered equipment is more environmentally friendly and does not involve lead-acid battery storage or disposal issues.

A leader in providing hydrogen fueling and the related infrastructure to the material handling market, Air Products’ SmartFuel technology is safely fueling more than 2,500 pieces of material handling equipment on a daily basis in the US. Air Products is currently supplying more than 20 material handling sites in the US and is dispensing hydrogen indoors at nearly 70 dispensers, with some of these units dispensing hydrogen more than 100 times per day.

Air Products has been fueling material handling units at industrial manufacturers, food distribution warehouses and automotive manufacturing plants since 2007.

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