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Plug Power finalizes contract to support a major US automobile manufacturer’s material handling operations

Plug Power has finalized a contract to supply a major US automobile manufacturer with hydrogen infrastructure and fuel cell solutions that will support material handling operations. The manufacturing campus of more than 6 square miles is dedicated to electric vehicles, batteries and is one of the largest auto manufacturing campuses in the US.

The manufacturing campus’s entire material handling fleet, including forklifts and tuggers, will run on Plug fuel cells. In addition to the fuel cell fleet, the agreement includes on-site hydrogen infrastructure, including two liquid hydrogen storage tanks and more ethan 10 hydrogen dispensers to prepare for the expansion of hydrogen applications.

Plug’s hydrogen fuel cells are a direct replacement for any battery solution in electric forklifts. By implementing fuel cell solutions, this facility will be able to drive productivity, streamline operations and maximize fleet uptime, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2024, Plug will undertake the installation and commissioning of the hydrogen infrastructure, setting the stage for the facility’s debut. This facility is expected to become fully operational by the first quarter of 2025, with production rolling out in carefully planned phases to ensure a smooth and effective ramp-up to full operations.

Plug has been a partner in advancing sustainable material handling operations for leading car manufacturers, including long standing collaborations with industry pioneers such as BMW, Daimler, Honda, GM and Stellantis contributing to their commitment to environmental responsibility and operational efficiency.

Comments

Davemart

I'm reallysurprised that they have gone for a liquid hydrogen solution in this application, it seems that it is catching on outside of long distance heavy trucking where the benefits are more obvious,

This is in spite of the energy penalty of liquifaction, so it would be interesting to have more details of why they made this choice.

SJC

In factories you want non poluting non-toxic material handling equipment
this is a good idea.

Davemart

@SJC

Yeah, but I would have thought the choice would be between batteries and gaseous hydrogen, depending on the usage patterns, where if you want high availability without downtime for charging you go hydrogen.

But what I don't understand is why they have gone to liquified hydrogen. It is more compact, but I am surprised that it is critical for this use.

SJC

It's just longer range more run time, high pressure hydrogen tanks stretch, after a while they must be replaced for safety reasons.

SJC

If you read closely it's just the storage tanks that are liquid hydrogen.
The actual vehicles may have gaseous hydrogen.

Davemart

@SJC:

The certification of gaseous hydrogen tanks is for 15 years and they have performed well. Effectively they are there pretty well for the lifetime of the vehicle.

A few years back I and an online acquaintance who you will be relieved to learn was an engineer ran some figures to see whether leakage would be a problem as there is much talk about the difficulty of containing hydrogen

We came out to something over the 15 year lifetime of the tank to lose most or all of its hydrogen!

The guy was not a hydrogen enthusiast, and was pretty much a battery only guy.

But them were the figures.

No doubt you could have defective tanks and so on, but that is true for any product.

Davemart

@SJC:

If it is just a storage tank it is even more mysterious why they would wish to incur the energy losses of liquifaction.

' including two liquid hydrogen storage tanks and more ethan 10 hydrogen dispensers to prepare for the expansion of hydrogen applications.'

So my guess from this is that the fork lifts and so on will continue to run on good old fashioned gaseous hydrogen, and that the liquid hydrogen tanks, although they may (?) be used to fuel the fork lifts, are really there to fuel heavy duty trucks to transport hydrogen elsewhere.

And my guess is also that they have other gaseous hydrogen storage tanks to do most of the refueling of the fork lifts etc avoiding liquifaction losses, as they simply say that it includes liquid storage tanks.

SJC

The storage tanks get cycled a lot more, the 15-year number you use is for average usage in an automobile, that's a lot different. There is no sense arguing this point this is the direction they want and that's it live with it.

Davemart

@SJC:

' the 15-year number you use is for average usage in an automobile,\

Just so. Sorry if I was unclear on that point. Your comment that higher cycling rates for storage tanks may reduce lifetimes is also of course accurate.

I was just trying to figure out why they have made the choices they have made, not seeking to correct the engineers involved!

They would not be liquifying the hydrogen if there were not pretty compelling reasons to do so. It is just not very clear from the information in the article what those reasons were.

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