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Walmart to Triple Warehouse Fuel Cells

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May 22, 2014

Walmart currently has more than 500 fuel cell forklift units operating at several warehouses, and is about to more than triple that number adding 1,200 units at six more warehouses in North America.

Walmart exterior store imageWalmart is using PlugPower’s GenDrive fuel cells in forklifts at its Washington Courthouse facility in Ohio, and a fresh food distribution center in Balzac, Canada, which is considered the most energy efficient distribution facility in North America. The new fuel cells will also be GenDrive as well.

“Since 2012, we have been working with Walmart to bring a zero-emission power source distribution warehouses in North America,” Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power Inc., wrote on Walmart’s corporate blog. “This depends on material handling lift trucks for moving pallets full of perishable foods and consumer products down from warehouse storage shelves and into delivery truck trailers. Traditionally, lead-acid batteries have powered these warehouse lift trucks. But any grid-dependent power can be polluting, hazardous and wasteful.”

Fuel cells, however, run on clean hydrogen power, making them an environmentally friendly alternative energy source, Marsh wrote, noting that GenDrive fuel cells are designed as a drop-in replacement for the batteries. “You just pull the battery out of the forklift and drop in a GenDrive unit,” he said.

The only byproducts fuel cells produce are heat and water. But the best news for Walmart is it eliminates the need to use valuable warehouse floor space to store batteries and charging units, he added.

“Fuel cells are easily refueled by the truck operator in as little as 60 seconds, significantly decreasing the amount of time lift trucks are not operational during the day,” Marsh said.

In addition to being efficient, clean and sustainable, Walmart’s fuel cell powered lift trucks are quieter, too, he added.

 

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