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Although it is true that electric-powered forklifts are still popular for use in warehouses and in the distribution chain market, an alternative that has been getting some traction is hydrogen fuel cell powered forklifts.
Toyota forklifts have become a major player in the evolution from the internal combustion engine to hydrogen fuel cells. The company recently introduced hydrogen fuel cell forklift models at ProMat 2019, which took place April 8-11, 2019 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. The company displayed a new three-wheel hydrogen fuel cell forklift that it plans to put into production later this year.
This is not the first hydrogen fuel cell forklift that the Japanese manufacturer has unveiled. It also introduced a four-wheel hydrogen fuel cell forklift at ProMat in 2009.
Toyota’s commitment to develop and offer hydrogen fuel cell forklifts has renewed interest in the futuristic power source. Toyota’s actions have made many fleet managers wonder what is hydrogen power? What is a fuel cell? How does a hydrogen fuel cell forklift work? And what are the advantages of hydrogen fuel cell forklifts in material handling?
What Is Hydrogen?
Hydrogen is a chemical found in natural resources including plants and water. It can be produced three ways –- steam reforming, electrolysis, and gasification. Hydrogen can be used in a fuel cell to produce power for any type of vehicle including a forklift.
What Is A Fuel Cell?
A fuel cell is a cell that generates electric current through a chemical reaction. The chemical reaction produces electricity that can be used to power vehicles including a forklift as well as small electronics and even industrial facilities.
How Does A Hydrogen Fuel Cell Forklift Work?
Proton exchange membrane fuel cells are currently the most efficient method as a power source. Like a battery, the cell uses a cathode, anode, and electrolyte to transmit electrons along an electrical path to power a vehicle like a forklift. Electrons, positively charged ions, and oxygen pulled from the air comes together at the end of a circuit and creates water as a byproduct that flows out of the fuel cell.
What Are The Advantages Of Fuel Cells In Material Handling?
Hydrogen powered vehicles like a forklift are similar to internal combustion engine vehicles because they can be refilled quickly at a fueling station. The difference is that the emissions from the hydrogen fuel cell powered forklift is zero while the emissions of a gas-powered forklift contains poisonous pollutants that can be a threat to human life.
They don’t need the maintenance that is required for a lead acid battery-powered electric forklift. These types of electric forklifts require less maintenance than a gas-powered forklift, but they still need water, equalizing, charging, and cleaning.
Again, there are no emissions on a hydrogen fuel cell forklift and it doesn’t require fuel sources that contribute to climate change. It is a sustainable energy source that ensures a clean environment.
As a result, watch for Toyota Forklifts to introduce more hydrogen fuel cell forklifts in the future.