Fuel Cells to Power Central Grocers Lift Trucks

LATHAM, N.Y.—Plug Power Inc. says Central Grocers Inc. is purchasing 220 GenDrive fuel cell units to power the entire lift truck fleet at its new DC.

The center is currently under construction in Joliet, Ill., and is expected to be operational by the end of the first quarter of 2009.

Central Grocers chose the hydrogen fuel-cell power units for a new fleet of Yale lift trucks to enhance productivity within its DC. Powering the fleet with GenDrive will eliminate the need to invest in a battery charging and changing infrastructure, thus reducing operational costs and opening floor space for the distribution business. The use of fuel cells also reduces the carbon footprint of the distribution center and removes the storage and handling of toxic materials associated with the use of lead-acid batteries from the workplace.

“Central Grocers represents the first greenfield site to incorporate our GenDrive solution into its operations,” says Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “Greenfield sites offer the potential for the greatest financial and operational benefits to our customers by eliminating the need for capital investments in batteries and the associated chargers, storage and changing system.”

The GenDrive units will be fueled by compressed hydrogen gas, which is converted from liquid hydrogen. The units are fueled by the lift truck operator, much like fueling an automobile. Air Products will supply both the liquid hydrogen storage compression system as well as multiple indoor fueling dispensers. The fuel cells can be refueled by the lift truck operator in fewer than two minutes.

Yale Equipment Services will service both the lift trucks and fuel-cell units. The Yale lift trucks provide regenerative lift and lower capabilities on stand-up units and power steering on pallet trucks.

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