Air Products to Supply Hydrogen and Infrastructure for Fuel Cell Lift Trucks

Air Products, Allentown, Pa., will install indoor hydrogen fueling infrastructure to fill a fleet of more than 200 fuel cell powered lift trucks that will operate at Central Grocers’ new distribution center in Joliet, Ill. Central Grocers’ new distribution center is expected to be operational by the end of the first quarter of 2009.

“The operational and environmental benefits of hydrogen powered materials handling management systems will be very evident from day one,” said Tom Joseph, business development manager for hydrogen energy systems at Air Products. “Look no further than Joliet, Ill. for a true indication of the positive results of the hydrogen economy that many people have talked about. We are pleased to be collaborating with Plug Power at this site, and congratulate Central Grocers for its leadership in seeking alternative energy solutions.”

Air Products’ indoor hydrogen fueling dispenser and related infrastructure will fuel the fleet of new lift trucks supplied by Yale Equipment Services, Rosemont, Ill., and fitted with Plug Power’s GenDrive™ hydrogen fuel cell power packs. Yale will service both the lift trucks and the GenDrive fuel cell units. Air Products’ fueling infrastructure will include outdoor liquid hydrogen storage and compression system, along with multiple indoor fueling dispensers for operator refueling. The power units can be quickly refueled by the lift truck operator in less than two minutes. This completely eliminates the need to change, store, charge and maintain multiple lead acid batteries per lift truck.

“Central Grocers represents the first greenfield site to incorporate our GenDrive solution into its operations. Greenfield sites offer the potential for the greatest financial and operational benefits to our customers by eliminating the need for capital investments in batteries and the associated chargers, storage and changing systems,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “This purchase also helps Central Grocers green their supply chain as well as their business operations.”

There are many advantages to using hydrogen powered forklifts and other materials handling equipment. Hydrogen fuel cell-powered equipment needs refueling only once or twice daily, depending on use. In contrast, traditional battery-powered equipment must be placed temporarily out of operation for battery replacement and required battery recharging usually every four to six hours. Hydrogen fuel cell-powered equipment provides consistent power strength during use and do not have decreased performance or wear down as required battery change out and recharge time nears for traditional units. Further, hydrogen-powered fuel cell equipment is more environmentally friendly, without associated lead-acid battery storage and disposal issues.

For more information on Air Products’ hydrogen fueling station technologies visit Air Products.