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Industrial hydrogen vehicles: do they have a chance?

Journalist Michael Kanellos reports in his News.com blog that vehicles in warehouses are beginning to use fuel cell batteries.

According to Kanellos, six companies, among them the largest chain of supermarkets in the world, Wal-Mart, and the tire company Bridgestone, are conducting trials with fork lifts that use hydrogen rather than the lead acid batteries used until now. The source cited in News.com is John Sheridan, CEO of Ballard Power Systems, producer of hydrogen fuel cells.

A conference at the beginning of September in San Francisco (ThinkEquity Partners Growth Conference) convened manufacturers, suppliers and industrialists interested in using hydrogen technology in applications such as logistics or transportation.

The companies responsible for manufacturing the fork lifts for the trials are Cellex Power and General Hydrogen.  Both firms are optimistic about the tests: fork lift operators don’t have to worry about two of the limitations disputed by the auto industry as justification for not having developed commercial models with hydrogen-powered motors.

Fork lift vehicles carry out their work in the same location, so there is no need to develop a hydrogen fueling station.  The velocity and acceleration limitations of this type of energy also doesn’t compromise the performance of a fork lift.

The Japanese industry is developing its own vehicles with hydrogen batteries. The Japanese government is offering aid for investigation and development in an effort to produce batteries at a price as low as 5,000 dollars.

This reality would make the technology effective for the first time beyond prototypes and industrial transportation.