Changing energies

Big lift: Pete Ward tests a hydrogen powered pallet truck
Big lift: Pete Ward tests a hydrogen powered pallet truck
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Germany is leading the way when it comes to pushing the use of hydrogen and its drive has been given an added boost by the decision to abandon nuclear power as a source of energy, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, last year, says ITM Power’s Barry Cunliffe.

Cars, vans and buses aren’t the only vehicles being considered for conversion to hydrogen fuel cell power.

ITM Power has been working with Infinitium, the US-based company that is the second largest supplier of fuel cells to the fork lift truck and handling equipment market.

Battery-powered fork lift trucks are designed so that the weight of the battery acts as a counter balance, so they can’t simply be replaced by a hydrogen tank and a fuel cell.

Instead, Infinitium’s system is added to the fork lift and configured to provide power to top up the battery as soon as it is used.

Barry Cunliffe says tests carried out with warehouse operators, including one at an M&S food distribution centre, showed that the converted trucks can run for two shifts on one 90 second recharge from an ITM refuelling station, whereas before they would otherwise have had to have had their battery swapped for a new one.

The tests also showed that handling equipment in a high bay warehouse could be used to move goods in the highest bays throughout the day, whereas before conversion to fuel cell power, warehouse staff had to schedule all the high bay movements for the start of the day, before the batteries lost some of their charge.