Hydrogen forklifts are making inroads into the powered industrial truck market. Thanks to a more eco-friendly mindset and an emphasis on operational efficiency, hydrogen lifts are now found in a variety of job environments. Everywhere from lumber yards to warehouses, from dockyards to ports routinely use hydrogen forklifts. What are the pros and cons of hydrogen forklifts, and how will they impact the future of cargo management and warehousing? We asked Tom Wilkerson, CEO of CertifyMe.net, for an expert opinion on hydrogen lifts.
Hydrogen forklifts used to be somewhat of a rarity in the workplace. A decade ago, it was hard to find a hydrogen lift in a warehouse or distribution centre.
Fast forward to the present day. It seems hydrogen forklifts are here to stay – for good. These type of forklifts offer many advantages over traditional gas-powered lifts, including:
- Zero emission operation. This is the biggest single factor that has made hydrogen lifts so popular. Many governments have set aggressive emission-limiting goals, and now companies have taken the lead to promote zero emission workplaces.
- Power on the go. Hydrogen lifts don’t tap into stored power – they use power generated by the lift as it runs. That’s a huge benefit for eco-conscious forklift fleet owners.
- Improved fueling times. In a matter of minutes, a hydrogen lift is ready to roll. Current models show promising fuelling times, and next-generation models will shorten the fuel delivery even further!
- Space-saving benefit. With no charging stations to create and maintain, you can use your floor space to hold more cargo. By optimising your existing capital – including available square footage – hydrogen lifts provide even more value-added advantages than you think!
Hydrogen cells are a renewable energy source, thanks to a relatively simple chemical reaction. No toxic fumes. No expensive fuel to worry about. No negative impact on the environment. Simply put, hydrogen fuel is cleaner and more readily available than typical gas-powered systems. Hydrogen lifts are already used in closed environments like warehouses, which is proof positive of their zero emission capability.
Plus, hydrogen fuel is more efficient than fossil fuels like gasoline. Up to 60% of the available energy in hydrogen fuels cells are utilized. Compared to the 20% rate of gasoline, and the efficiency ratings make hydrogen fuel cells a no-brainer.
Still not convinced hydrogen forklifts are the future of powered industrial truck operation? Consider this: hydrogen is the most readily available chemical structure on the planet. No other element is as abundant – or accessible – as hydrogen.
Hydrogen lifts do have a few drawbacks. Small traces of nitrogen dioxide emissions are possible, along with higher costs for transporting and storing, since hydrogen is flammable.
But add it all up, and it’s hard to ignore the immense benefits your forklift fleet will enjoy with hydrogen lifts. American employers are becoming more receptive to the idea of using hydrogen lifts, while foreign companies have already made hydrogen forklifts an integral element of their day-to-day operations.
Just some of the firms providing fuel cells for current and future hydrogen forklifts include:
- Plug Power, Inc.
- And many more
Hydrogen Forklifts – Conclusion
Given the significant growth of hydrogen forklifts in the past decade or so, and the continued emphasis on zero emission workplaces, the future of hydrogen lift use is as promising as ever.
With operational costs projected to drop in the coming years (as hydrogen fuel cell technology becomes more widely used), hydrogen lifts will be a preferred type of powered industrial truck for a multitude of applications.
About the author:
Tom Wilkerson is the founder and CEO of CertifyMe.net, one of the leading online OSHA forklift training providers in the world. His extensive experience on both sides of the safety paradigm gives his training modules a distinct advantage over other online-based courses. CertifyMe.net offers a handful of forklift training courses for traditional warehouse lifts, rough terrain forklifts, pallet jacks, order pickers, and more. In just 5 easy steps, you can become OSHA certified. For more information about CertifyMe.net, please visit their website.