Coca-Cola Gets Greener Fueling Forklifts

April 27, 2011
The hydrogen fuel cell powered forklift trucks will replace propane models

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, the largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the U.S., recently announced that it is boosting environmental sustainability with a hydrogen fueling system for materials handling equipment from Linde North America.

Beginning in June, Coca-Cola Consolidated's Charlotte, N.C., distribution center will begin using forklift trucks that will run on green hydrogen. Linde will provide a hydrogen fueling system with three indoor dispenser stations to support more than 40 pieces of materials handling equipment operating inside Coca-Cola Consolidateds distribution center.

The hydrogen fuel cell powered forklift trucks, which are replacing propane models, move pallets of soft drinks, juice and water around the center prior to shipment to retail outlets in the U.S. Southeast.

This is Coca-Cola Consolidated's first application of hydrogen fuel cell powered forklift trucks. The hydrogen fuel cells are supplied by Latham, New York-based Plug Power Inc., a provider of hydrogen based fuel cells in the materials handling market.

"Linde is proud to celebrate Earth Day by bringing hydrogen into use as a cost-effective everyday fuel," said Mike Beckman, vice president, alternative energy for Linde North America. "We're showing that our technology can help improve sustainability, lower emissions and reduce our dependence on foreign fuel. Hydrogen already is one of the most promising alternative fuels. And because of the way it is produced, the hydrogen Linde supplies to Coca-Cola Consolidated is truly green, with only a small carbon footprint incurred during shipping."

The fuel cell solution allows Coca-Cola to "promote sustainable business practices that will help us achieve greater efficiencies in our materials handling," said Alison Patient, director of corporate affairs for Coca-Cola Consolidated. "And due to the high efficiency of the hydrogen fuel cells and the convenient location of the refueling stations in our plant, we expect to improve both our operating cost and our productivity. I think this innovative installation may serve as a model for other Coca-Cola bottlers who want to achieve similar results."

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