The buzz at last month's ProMat show in Chicago was on a type of material handling innovation that doesn't actually exist yet: fuel cell-powered lift trucks. At least two major lift truck manufacturers -- Toyota Material Handling U.S.A. Inc. and Raymond Corp. -- are developing fork lifts powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Raymond was recently awarded a $750,000 contract from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to research hydrogen fuel cell applications, while Toyota displayed a prototype of what one of these vehicles could look like, dubbed the FCHV-F (Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle).
Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recently conducted a trial of fuel cell-powered lift trucks at two of its distribution centers in Ohio, which in effect was a test of technology developed by Cellex Power Products Inc., running on pallet trucks from Crown Equipment Corp. and Nissan Barrett.
|Toyota's prototype Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle|