The company expects the equipment in the 352,000-square foot DC to be operational by the end of June.
Air Products is supplying the hydrogen as well as compression, storage and two indoor hydrogen dispensing units. UNFI plans to add 29 new fuel-cell-powered lift trucks to its fleet and retrofit its 36 existing lift trucks to fuel cell technology.
Hydrogen fuel cells produce energy by combining hydrogen and oxygen in an electrochemical reaction that yields electricity, heat and water. By converting UNFI's Sarasota lift truck fleet to fuel cells, the company expects to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 132 metric tons annually, an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of 35 automobiles, according to Air Products.
"We consider environmental stewardship an essential component in every facet of our business,” says Steven Spinner, UNFI's president and CEO. “This hydrogen fuel-cell project extends our commitment as an environmentally conscious organization.”
“Hydrogen fuel cells not only provide greater productivity and lower operating costs but will be an important component of a clean energy future,” adds Tom Dziki, UNFI's senior vice president of sustainable development. “Once implemented, this fuel-cell project is expected to create annual energy savings of approximately 640,000 kilowatt hours.”
Air Products' hydrogen fueling technology is currently being used to fuel pallet trucks at Wegmans retail service center in Pottsville, Pa., and lift trucks at Central Grocers' new DC in Joliet, Ill.; Nestle Waters North America in Dallas; and Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna Pennsylvania in New Cumberland, Pa.