In May 2010, I wondered aloud whether or not fuel cell forklifts and palette trucks used in large warehouse settings, would in fact be the first commercial production hydrogen vehicles on the market.
Now, there is more evidence that this is so. In Houston, Texas Sysco Inc. opened their new 585,000-square-foot food distribution facility. They will be using numerous Plug Power Inc. Gendrive fuel cell forklifts and palette trucks.
According to the Plug Power press release, “…Sysco has deployed 98 GenDrive™ fuel cell units to power a fleet of The Raymond Corporation’s electric lift trucks at its new Houston, Texas distribution center. GenDrive product is placed into 72 Raymond Model 8400 pallet trucks and 26 Raymond Model 7400 Reach-Fork® trucks.”
And according to my interaction with Plug Power Marketing Communications Manager, Teal Vivacqua, “All the products being used at Sysco’s facility are commercial vehicles. The fuel cell powered material handling vehicles will be used as the sole lift truck fleet at its new distribution facility.”
Air Products will be supplying two indoor H2 refueling stations, strategically placed, that can fuel up a forklift or palette truck in about 2 minutes. The life of the fuel cells is expected to be up to 10 years.
No longer will Sysco, at least in this warehouse, be responsible for charging, changing and disposing of the toxic lead acid batteries found in similar vehicles in other facilities.