DCs are about to become cleaner and greener—at least in South Carolina. State officials there have awarded a $1 million grant to Hydrogenics Corp., a manufacturer of hydrogen and fuel cell systems, and LiftOne, a division of Carolina Tractor, to deploy hydrogen fuel cells in forklifts at several South Carolina facilities.
The pilot is part of the Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge, an initiative to turn Columbia into a center of expertise in the development of fuel cell hybrid technology for use in manufacturing and distribution. The grant funds will be used to offset the higher costs of hydrogen fuel cells over forklift batteries for companies that want to test fuel cells. South Carolina officials hope that price will become less of a deterrent once the pilot companies see the advantages of a technology that enables forklifts to be recharged in just two to five minutes.
"It is important that end-users see firsthand the productivity and performance improvements these power packs provide," says Hydrogenics President and CEO Daryl Wilson, "and to appreciate the operational benefits they enable, such as eliminating the need for battery rooms that can occupy valuable space within a facility."
The tests, which are set to begin in late spring, are expected to be completed by November. Hydrogenics declined to name the companies that have signed up for the pilot. The company did say, however, that it will launch a two-year fuelcell pilot with 19 forklift trucks this summer at a facility run by General Motors of Canada in Oshawa, Ontario.