Think of hydrogen, and the first images that come to mind might be floating blimps or shining stars. But the lightweight gas is showing a lot of promise for a new application—serving as a core component of the hydrogen fuel cells that provide zero-emission energy for electric engines.
And we’re talking about energy with some serious muscle. Hydrogen fuel cells are providing the power for a top-pick container handler that was recently deployed at the Fenix Marine Services terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. The handler was built by the lift truck manufacturer Hyster Co. for a pilot test of the technology, with financial backing from the California Air Resources Board.
The handler hoists full-size shipping containers by tapping into the power of two 45kw hydrogen fuel cells from Nuvera, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hyster’s parent company, Hyster-Yale Group. According to Hyster, the vehicle offers enough capacity to avoid the need for lengthy stops in the middle of a shift to refuel or recharge. “Refueling the top-pick with hydrogen fuel is expected to take approximately 15 minutes, with the intention to provide eight to 10 hours of continuous run time, all while producing no harmful emissions—only water and heat,” the company said in a release.The hydrogen fuel cell works in tandem with an onboard lithium-ion battery to either power the equipment directly or charge the onboard battery. The top-pick is also equipped with a patented Hyster energy-recovery system for electric container handlers that recovers and stores energy from lowering loads and braking.