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Yale and the fuel cell revolution

Whilst a number of companies are engaged in looking at alternative energy sources for their materials handling fleets, fuel cell technology remains in its infancy in the UK. In contrast the market for fuel cell powered forklift trucks continues to grow in the United States – with Yale taking a leadership role in environmental sustainability.

As the European market explores the alternatives to traditional lead-acid batteries, the extensive investment, engineering collaboration, analysis and testing carried out by the company in the US will place Yale in EMEA in an ideal position to meet customers’ needs.

A number of prominent American businesses have turned to Yale for their fuel cell powered trucks and have deployed them on a large scale. The results have been substantial savings in labour and operational costs, in addition to contributing to an emission free working environment.

Customers include Nestlé Waters, which is using 32 Yale® counterbalance trucks, fuelled by hydrogen fuel cell units, at its bottling plant in Dallas. Central Grocer, Inc, the largest independent grocery chain in Chicago, has bought no fewer than 220 fuel cell powered trucks for use in a new distribution centre.

For those who are unfamiliar with the technology, hydrogen fuel cells convert the energy produced in the hydrogen fuel cell into electricity via a chemical reaction that’s only by-products are water and heat.

The main reason for choosing fuel cell power however is, that it can save a significant amount of money for businesses. A single ‘fill’ of the cell can power a truck through a long shift, with each refuelling taking somewhere between three and ten minutes. This increases uptime by reducing the associated downtime and the effort and expense of battery replacement and maintenance.

Other fuel cell advantages over lead-acid batteries include extra business space, as there is no need for battery charging stations. The life of a fuel cell can be up to ten years or more and fuel cells can be a better choice than lead acid batteries in refrigerated workplace applications as their performance is unaffected by low temperatures.

As well as counterbalance trucks, Yale has successfully powered a variety of warehouse equipment, of all sizes, using hydrogen fuel cells. They are no longer a theoretical fuel of the future as has been proven by Yale being among the first to use them in applications that have proved to make economic sense.

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