Air Products is to install an indoor hydrogen fuelling infrastructure to fill a fleet of over 200 fuel cell powered lift trucks, which will operate at a new grocers distribution centre in Illinois.

Central Grocers’ new distribution centre in Joliet, Illinois is set to be operational by the end of the first quarter of 2009 and it is there that the benefits of hydrogen-powered vehicles will be evident.

Air Products’ indoor hydrogen fuelling dispenser and related infrastructure will fuel the fleet of new forklift trucks, supplied by Yale Equipment Services and fitted with Plug Power’s GenDrive hydrogen fuel cell power packs.

Air Products’ fuelling infrastructure will include outdoor liquid hydrogen storage and compression system, along with multiple indoor fuelling dispensers for operator refuelling.

Environmentally cleaner, more energy efficient, and providing enhanced operational performance on the job are just some of the benefits to be gained from the new installation of hydrogen vehicles.

“The operational and environmental benefits of hydrogen powered materials handling management systems will be very evident from day one,” enthused Tom Joseph, Business Development Manager for Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products.

“Look no further than Joliet, Illinois 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.”

Yale will service both the lift trucks and the GenDrive fuel cell units, which can be quickly refuelled 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.

There are many advantages to using hydrogen powered forklifts and other materials handling equipment. Hydrogen fuel cell-powered equipment needs refuelling only once or twice daily, depending on use, while 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.