Market analysts will look back on 2014 as a watershed year for fuel cells in the material handling sector. Fuel cells have proven to be both a competitive and productive technology in this application, enhancing efficiency while reducing the cost of warehouse operations.
The advantages are many. Fuel cells offer longer run times than battery-powered forklifts and performance is consistent, with no voltage sag. Refueling takes just two to three minutes and can be performed directly by the operator, eliminating the need to staff a battery changing area, and reclaiming valuable warehouse space once devoted to battery storage. Fuel cells also operate without loss of performance in refrigerated storage and freezers, as well as in hot environments.
In addition, fuel cells lower overall carbon emissions. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory reports that fuel cell-powered lift trucks operating on hydrogen made onsite from natural gas have about 33% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than lift trucks powered by batteries or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Read more on fuel cells at Material Handling & Logistics.