Fuel Cell Forklift Technology to South Carolina Companies

LiftOne and Engineered Solutions, divisions of Carolina Tractor (Columbia, S.C.), have unveiled two hydrogen-powered fuel cell lift trucks at their facility in Columbia, S.C. The lift trucks have been equipped with HyPX Fuel Cell Power Packs manufactured by Hydrogenics of Toronto, Canada and installed by LiftOne in electric lift trucks manufactured by Linde Materials Handling of Summerville, S.C. Both units will commence their deployment this week at Michelin's Columbia plant, the first of six two- week evaluations at facilities in the greater Columbia area.

Michelin is the first customer to accept the new units to evaluate their performance and their capabilities. "The promise of hydrogen-powered equipment has long been a dream of many of our customers looking to find more environmentally-friendly ways of doing business," said LiftOne General Manager, Bill Ryan. "Here today that promise has become more of a reality."

Hydrogenics has been in the business of developing and commercializing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies since 1995 and is a world leader in this emerging clean energy industry. The company's fuel cell commercialization efforts are focused on two key early adopting markets -- material handling and back-up power for data centers and telecom. Hydrogenics and LiftOne signed a distribution agreement in January of this year, making possible these programmed trials by multiple end-users; the first of its kind nationally.

"This demonstration project shows how successful collaborations within South Carolina continue to grow our state's knowledge economy," said Bill Mahoney, SCRA CEO and SC Launch acting president. "The joint efforts of the USC Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative, SC Launch!, Hydrogenics, and Lift One are delivering economic opportunities to the Midlands and to the entire state through greater awareness of the operational and financial advantages of alternative energy applications."

The stimulus for this hydrogen fuel cell project came about with the funding and the sponsorship of the Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge. The Challenge is a collaborative effort between the City of Columbia, the University of South Carolina, EngenuitySC and the South Carolina Research Authority, whose collective mission is to accelerate the deployment and adoption of a wide array of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies within the Midlands region of South Carolina.

"This is yet another market-ready application for Fuel Cell technology in the Midlands," said Neil McLean, Executive Director of EngenuitySC. "We are taking a major step forward in our vision for making Columbia a region that provides Fuel Cell companies a competitive edge for building their business."

Launched in the summer of 2006 with an initial request of proposals, the Challenge has awarded ten projects to date. The Hydrogenics-LiftOne project is the most ambitious initiative among those already funded. Hydrogenics and LiftOne responded to the Challenge and by working together with the Columbia- based agencies and also bringing Linde into the fold, created an 'all South Carolina' effort that has succeeded in placing Columbia on the fuel cell technology map.

"Fuel cells offer clean, high-performance power to these customers," said Troy Garrison, the Manager of this project for LiftOne, the first distributor to do so in the country. "There are also other real and compelling cost- effective reasons for looking at this technology, too."

In addition to being zero emission, a fuel cell power solution also provides continuous full power for the full duration of a shift, while eliminating the need to dedicate the space and other resources for replacement batteries, charging stations and battery changing equipment. "Longer run times and the elimination of battery changes all translate into higher productivity at lower costs," said Garrison.

Extensive discussion and proposed legislation within the State has been undertaken to encourage the commercial use of alternative fuel and energy sources.

"The amount of interest we have had in this project from so many of our South Carolina customers has been huge," Ryan commented. "We have had several serious inquiries as to when we will be launching our Fuel Cell and Training Center. We hope to have that center established here this fall."

After the first deployment at Michelin, the other clients who have asked to be involved in this evaluation are PBR, ISOLA Laminates, and Leigh Fibers amongst others. The fuel cell lift truck deployments are expected to rollout and continue throughout the fall.

To learn more about the project, visit http://www.fuelcellchallenge.com.

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