Ballard Power Systems has signed a Technology Solutions programme with an unnamed strategic customer to develop a next generation air-cooled fuel cell stack for forklift trucks.

A key objective of the Technology Solutions programme is to design and validate an ultra-high durability, high performance air-cooled fuel cell stack for uses in a number of target market applications, including certain material handling applications, with a target operating lifetime of 20,000 hours. The multi-year programme has an initial value to Ballard of approximately $4.2m.

A key market opportunity will be the integration of the next generation stacks into fuel cell systems for class 3 lift trucks, such as pallet jacks, deployed in high throughput distribution centers and warehouse operations. Other potential applications include systems for stationary continuous and backup power.

Dr. Kevin Colbow, Ballard’s Vice-President of Technology and Product Development, said, “We are excited to win this innovative development program with an important strategic partner. We believe an air-cooled fuel cell stack with 20,000 hours of operating lifetime in demanding operating conditions will be industry leading. This next generation stack is expected to significantly reduce the total cost of ownership for fuel-cell powered Class 3 lift trucks, thereby increasing the value proposition and serviceable addressable market.”