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When it comes to material handling equipment or even automobiles and factories, hydrogen fuel cells have proven to be a realistic replacement for today’s conventional means of powering machinery and equipment, says Trinton Castetter, Product Marketing Specialist at Toyota Material Handling. At ProMat 2019, Toyota Material Handling unveiled a new three-wheel fuel cell forklift which went into production last year. An ideal complement to the four-wheel version unveiled at Toyota’s last ProMat appearance in 2009, the three-wheel model continues Toyota’s promise to bring sustainable energy sources to the forefront of the material handling industry. Read more: Toyota: Bullish on hydrogen Here, Castetter gives some key insights into how fuel cells work and how they can ultimately impact businesses bottom lines. What is hydrogen? Trinton Castetter (TC): Hydrogen is a chemical element that can be found in natural resources like plants and water. While there is a finite amount of naturally-occurring hydrogen in the atmosphere, the element can be produced in alternative ways, including steam reforming, electrolysis, and gasification. What is a fuel cell? TC: A fuel cell is a cell that produces an electric current as a direct result of a chemical reaction. The chemical reaction produces electricity that is used to power a load which, for our purposes, is a forklift. Fuel cells are used to power a wide range of products today, from small electronics, to buses, and even certain industrial facilities. How does a fuel cell forklift work? TC: Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are currently the most viable type used for powering industrial equipment such as forklifts. Similar to a battery, PEM fuel cells utilise a cathode, anode, and an electrolyte to transfer electrons along an electrical path to power the forklift. Unlike a lead acid battery, however, this process occurs using only hydrogen […]
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