Fuel cell does the heavy lifting

Riley Riley

Toyota is trialling the first hydrogen, fuel cell-powered forklifts outside of Japan at its parts centres.

The zero emissions hydrogen fuel cell (FC) forklift is an extension of Toyota’s simultaneous trial of its Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), which share the same hydrogen-powered technology.

The forklifts which have a nominal lift capacity of 2500kg and will feature at the official opening of the company’s new parts centre in Western Sydney’s Kemps Creek.

Toyota hydrogen FC vehicles take pressurised hydrogen which is fed into a fuel cell stack, where it combines with oxygen to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity.

The hydrogen powered forklifts are especially suitable for logistic and warehouse operations because they can be refuelled in just a few minutes.

Toyota Material Handling Australia General Manager, Bob Walmsley, said it takes around three minutes to fill the hydrogen tank compared with eight hours to recharge a conventional battery.

“This means we can use these forklifts more often, without having to significantly wait between charges or use second-shift batteries to achieve the same utilisation,” he said.

The Toyota hydrogen FC forklifts and Mirai are not currently for sale in Australia, due mainly to a lack of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.

For the trials Toyota’s mobile hydrogen fuelling station was used which is mounted on the back of a Hino 700 Series truck.

The roof of the new Kemps Creek warehouse features a 605kW solar array that is capable of generating 874MWh per year.

Toyota says it’s possible a permanent hydrogen charging station will be built here that uses renewable energy from the solar array.

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