Building a cleaner forklift engine

May 4, 2004
Building a clearer forklift engine Looking to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas, Hydrogenics Corp. (, headquartered in

Building a clearer
forklift engine

Looking to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas, Hydrogenics Corp.
(, headquartered in Mississagua, Ontario, has received significant funding to develop and demonstrate a fuel cell-powered Class I sit-rider electric forklift that will incorporate hydrogen storage and a refueling station.

Funding for the $3.54 million project comes from the not-for-profit organization Sustainable Development Technology Canada and a consortium led by Hydrogenics that includes Deere & Co., FedEx Canada, General Motors of Canada, NACCO Materials Handling Group (Hyster and Yale) and the Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance.

Since they produce no exhaust emissions, fuel cell-powered forklifts would work well for indoor operations. According to Hydrogenics, off-road vehicles — including forklifts and other vehicles — add 13% of the global total of transportation-related greenhouse gases.

All is not AC

Manufacturers have not abandoned DC and internal combustion engines to deliver lift truck power. Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks ( has developed Envir02 engines that work on the line of 3,000- to 7,000-lb. capacity pneumatic tire forklifts. These engines exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2004 standards for emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

A gas cylinder aids in balancing the liquid propane tank while controlling directional movement. An extended powertrain warranty from the manufacturer covers all key components, including engine, fuel system, exhaust, transmission, drive line and drive axel.

The power of alternating current

AC power is the name of the game these days in the material handling field. Following is a look at some recently-introduced AC-powered lift trucks:

AC technology is brushless, meaning there's no maintenance needed for the traction, steer and optional brushless hoist motor in the new line of E45-65Z lift trucks from Hyster Co. Inc. (

The line is powered by a 36- or 48-volt AC system. These trucks maintain speed no matter what the load or battery discharge levels. It's possible to boost loaded travel speed and acceleration by shutting off the standard extended shift AC controller.

For operators, hydraulic control soft-touch levers are within normal reach. Standard is a non-suspension seat, with option suspension and swivel seats available. A 7-position tilt steer column helps lessen operator fatigue.

For greater productivity, loads moved per shift are increased because truck AC controllers and brushless induction traction motors permit quick, smooth direction changes.

The ARC System from Raymond Corp. ( features a combination of AC technology and ergonomics designed to reduce cost, improve efficiency and operator productivity. The System is featured in the company's new Model 7400 Reach-Fork Truck, available in “reach” and “deep-reach” configurations.

The Model 7400's open view mast design permits operators to see the base legs, load and rack. Jarring of the truck, load and operator is prevented through the 7400's A-frame suspension with its steered idler wheel to eliminate caster snap.

For the operator, contoured padding, low step height and spring suspension, and an inertial dampener are designed to eliminate sways and shocks. For working in cold conditions, there's an optional ThermaKit system, featuring a heated floor cushion and heated control handle.

The 7-Series from Toyota Material Handling U.S.A. Inc. ( features AC motors for both drive and lift. When compared to the same-size DC units, these AC motors provide faster top speeds with quicker acceleration. The AC power system recovers energy when the truck is coasting and the accelerator is released, when the brake pedal is depressed and when the directional lever is shifted.

The 7-series 3-wheel electric lift trucks employ three motors instead of four. One AC motor controls steering and hydraulics, while the other two control drive functions. Operators control technology from a programmable digital display keypad — including all mast and auxiliary functions and attachments.

When sensors monitoring load weight and height detect forward tilt nearing danger, the tilting angle is reduced. In addition, by pressing a button, forks can be automatically leveled, parallel to the floor, aiding in pallet placement.

Yale Materials Handling Corp. ( has introduced the ERC-GH lift truck, the second in its line of AC-powered electric rider trucks. The truck is powered by a transistorized AC traction motor and offers the brushless power and ease of change of direction expected.

One safety feature of the ERC-GH is its auto deceleration system that automatically slows the truck when the accelerator pedal is released. The truck includes hydraulic controls located at the operator seat side.

These trucks are available in 4,000 to 6,500 lb. capacities and 36- or 48-volt power. The trucks feature proportional regenerative braking. These four-wheel sit-down units offer ease of entry and exit and for maintenance, there is easy service access.

May, 2004

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