Forklift trucks that run on a green charge
by Svein Tønseth
The first forklift trucks in Europe that will run on fuel cells and with hydrogen in their tanks are on the way to the market. No fewer than 30 demonstration units are to be tested, and Norway is among the countries potentially involved in the trials.
Risavika harbor just outside Stavanger, Norway, is among the candidates for trials of ten of the 30 forklift trucks, says SINTEF’s Steffan Møller-Holst.
SINTEF, Scandinavia’s largest research organization, is a participant in the project’s development phase, which will bring the green European truck to its final goal. Under its bodywork, the truck houses a miniature power station in the shape of a fuel cell that runs on hydrogen, and which delivers power to its electric motor. All that the truck emits in operation is water vapor!
The best of both worlds
“A hydrogen-driven forklift truck running on fuel cells combines the advantages of diesel and battery-driven vehicles. The hydrogen-based technology means rapid refueling, just like diesel, while it is also energy-efficient and every bit as environmentally friendly as a battery truck,” says Møller-Holst.
The SINTEF scientist points out that a forklift truck fitted with fuel cells and operating two eight-hour shifts a day reduces CO2 emissions by the equivalent of eight private cars.
Developed under the European Union’s auspices
The truck’s power system has been developed in the course of a joint European effort run by the European Union.
SINTEF is to perform laboratory tests that will explore how much fuel cell performance falls by over time. At the same time, SINTEF will systematize and analyze feedback from the trials of the 30 demonstration trucks. The knowledge gained in this process will be used to improve the control system and optimize operation, which will ensure that the fuel cell will have a life-cycle that meets the commercial requirements of the market.
The Danish company H2 Logic AS has been responsible for developing the trucks’ fuel-cell technology. The solution is a development of a fuel cell that the company had previous developed with Scandinavian backing. Its partners included SINTEF and Statoil.
These large forklift trucks in the joint European project have been designed to carry heavy loads. They are manufactured by the Danish company Dantruck, which is showing them off this week at the enormous CeMAT trade fair in Hanover.
Svein Tønseth is a science journalist at SINTEF and a regular contributor to GEMINI. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.