LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa., Feb. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Air Products (NYSE: APD) today announced that its industry leading hydrogen fueling technology and infrastructure is now on stream and providing hydrogen to fuel material handling fuel cell units at WinCo Foods LLC's 800,000 square foot grocery distribution center in Modesto, Calif. Air Products is currently fueling 33 material handling units, with 49 more pieces of equipment to be added in April, and increasing to 184 overall when the facility conversion to hydrogen-powered fuel cell lifts is complete in 2013.
"We continue to grow our leadership position in the material handling equipment market at a time when recognition of the productivity and sustainability benefits of hydrogen fueling for this application continues to increase. We worked closely with WinCo as the timing for getting hydrogen supply installed was critical to a seamless conversion of their material handling equipment to hydrogen fuel cells. We began using our mobile fueling technology, and then brought the permanent fueling station online this month which includes two fueling dispensers," said Sarah Hammond, business development manager – Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products. Details on Air Products' hydrogen fueling station technologies and projects are provided at www.airproducts.com/h2energy.
The WinCo material handling units being fueled by Air Products include Plug Power's (NASDAQ: PLUG) GenDrive ® hydrogen fuel cell power units. The GenDrive systems can be quickly refueled in just minutes, completely eliminating the need to change, store, charge and maintain multiple lead acid batteries for each lift.
"Plug Power's GenDrive fuel cell systems have provided WinCo with a power solution for its lift truck fleet that increases productivity and reduces operational costs over traditional lead-acid batteries. At the same time, the fuel cells offer a much more sustainable alternative for power," said Andy Marsh, CEO at Plug Power. "Our GenDrive units run on hydrogen, and Air Products understands the importance of getting the hydrogen infrastructure in place so the fuel cells can be deployed and the customer can start realizing the benefits of the project."There are many advantages to using hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts and material handling equipment. Hydrogen-powered equipment only needs refueling once or twice daily, depending on use, and does not require change-out downtime while traditional battery-powered equipment is taken out of operation for battery replacement or recharging approximately every four to six hours. Hydrogen-powered equipment provides consistent power strength during use and does not experience decreased performance or wear down as battery units do when nearing change-out or recharge time. Additionally, unlike battery-powered forklifts, hydrogen-powered fuel cells are not adversely impacted by temperature when operating in coolers and freezers. Further, hydrogen-powered equipment is more environmentally friendly and does not involve lead-acid battery storage or disposal issues.