For years there has been a discrepancy in the hydrogen sector between North America and Europe: Over on the other side of the Atlantic, fuel cell-powered industrial trucks are enjoying great popularity, while their number in Germany is more in keeping with homoeopathic doses.
The reasons for this have already been reported many times (see HZwei issues Jan. 2018, Jan. 2016, Jul. 2013). However, there are still promising approaches and also positive empirical values which indicate that in future more and more diesel forklifts will be replaced in Europe by electric forklifts – increasingly by fuel-cell powered ones.
At the end of 2018, around 21,000 H2-powered industrial trucks were in operation worldwide – 300 of them in Europe. 70 of these drove in the BMW plant in Leipzig alone. The indoor tow tractors there, are used in the production of the i3 models to supply the assembly lines and are part of the total fleet of 400 vehicles. It was commissioned as part of the follow-up project to H2IntraDrive, which initially involved eleven forklifts and tractors in December 2013 (see HZwei issues Jan. 2014 and Jan. 2016).
In addition to BMW, Linde Material Handling, Günsel Fördertechnik and the Technical University of Munich are participating as research partners in the current FFZ70 project, which runs until 2021. Their motivation is to check the operating conditions for an economical operation. During the first trial period it had become apparent that the economic efficiency had not been guaranteed until then, also because too few vehicles had been used. However, with a larger number of units, both the investment costs and the maintenance, operating and approval costs should be reduced, so the expectation.
Important elements of this second phase are the standardization as well as the establishment of plug & play solutions for fleet conversion and the validation of service life, but also the elaboration of a training concept for the operation of H2 equipment, reported Wolfgang Axthammer, Managing Director of the National Organization for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology. NOW’s aim is also to establish an industry standard (H2Ready) “which will open up the possibility for other manufacturers on a broad basis to use the innovative technology in new or retrofitted vehicles in their own production”.
“Industrial trucks with fuel cell technology in logistics can reduce CO2 emissions by at least 25 percent while increasing productivity and reducing storage space and loading time
Wolfgang Axthammer, NOW
read more in H2-international October 2019