First Commercial Warehouse in Pennsylvania to Use Hydrogen for Material Handling
April 26, 2010 Lehigh Valley, Pa.
The produce at Wegmans Retail Service Center (RSC) just got greener. Wegmans, a supermarket chain leader and innovator, has launched a fleet of 50 hydrogen fuel cell-powered pallet trucks using Air Products’ (NYSE: APD) hydrogen and hydrogen fueling station technology at its Pottsville, Pa. warehouse to move produce on a daily basis for shipment to its stores in a five state area. The warehouse installation is the first commercial site in Pennsylvania to use this advanced technology to move consumer goods using hydrogen-powered material handling equipment.
“We’ve commissioned hydrogen infrastructure projects all over the world and for the material handling market at several U.S. locations, but this marks a milestone for the Commonwealth and is the first commercial operation in our home state. The hydrogen economy has arrived in Pennsylvania and Wegmans’ Pottsville warehouse will be a showcase site to demonstrate the benefits of hydrogen fueling for the lift industry,” said Dave Taylor, vice president, Energy Businesses at Air Products. “There was a team involved in this project, including the public and private sector, and all should be commended for their efforts.” Taylor noted the support of Congressman Tim Holden, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger, State Senator Dave Argall, State Representative Neal Goodman, and Frank Zukas, President of the Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation, in helping to make this project a reality.
Dave Allar, Wegmans’ RSC maintenance manager, had been anxious for this changeover to hydrogen to arrive, as were employees at the Pottsville facility. “Our folks tested the equipment early last year and could immediately see what it would mean to equipment performance and productivity.” Allar compared the experience of converting to hydrogen-powered equipment to that of driving a car. “Whether a gas tank is full or down to a quarter-tank, a car will travel at 60 mph. Not so when battery power is used, performance diminishes as the battery discharges,” he said.
Beyond productivity improvements, Wegmans also pointed to the environmental benefits of the changeover. A hydrogen fuel cell produces energy through an electrochemical reaction. Because hydrogen is the fuel source, heat and water are the only byproducts. “We are always looking for ways to improve our sustainability,” said David DeMascole, general manager–Pottsville Distribution Facility for Wegmans. “There is also pride associated with being the first in Pennsylvania. Wegmans tries to be on the cutting edge for our industry. To have this opportunity with new hydrogen fuel cell lifts is great. We are proud of what we can achieve for our environment, community and employees.”
Partial funding for the project was received at federal and state levels. In April 2009 the United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced a funding program for fuel cell technology to expand use of clean and renewable energy sources to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. DOE said these efforts will accelerate the commercialization and deployment of fuel cells and will create jobs in fuel cell manufacturing, installation, maintenance and support services. The effort is designed to improve the potential of fuel cells to provide power in stationary, portable and specialty vehicle applications, while cutting carbon emissions and broadening our nation’s clean energy technology portfolio. The project also received a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority.
Air Products’ fueling infrastructure at Wegmans includes an outdoor liquid hydrogen storage and compression system, along with multiple indoor fueling dispensers for operator refueling. Details on Air Products’ hydrogen fueling station technologies are provided at www.airproducts.com/h2energy.
Air Products will fuel the fleet of pallet trucks all fitted with Plug Power’s (NASDAQ: PLUG) GenDriveTM hydrogen fuel cell power units. The GenDrive systems can be quickly refueled in less than five minutes, completely eliminating the need to change, store, charge and maintain multiple lead acid batteries per lift truck. Wegmans hopes to convert its entire lift truck fleet at the Pottsville facility to hydrogen fuel cells over the next few years. To this point, Wegmans’ material handling equipment was all powered with lead acid batteries.
There are many advantages to using hydrogen-powered forklifts and other material handling equipment. Hydrogen fuel cell-powered equipment needs refueling once or twice daily, depending on use. In contrast, traditional battery-powered equipment must be placed temporarily out of operation for battery replacement and required battery recharging approximately every four to six hours. Hydrogen fuel cell-powered equipment provides consistent power strength during use and does not experience decreased performance or wear down as traditional lead-acid battery units do as they near a required battery change out or recharge time. Additionally, hydrogen fuel cell forklifts are not adversely impacted by temperature or by operating in coolers and freezers, in comparison to traditional battery performance. Further, hydrogen-powered fuel cell equipment is more environmentally friendly because it does not involve lead-acid battery storage and disposal issues.
Air Products’ hydrogen fueling technology is currently being used to fuel approximately 300 material handling vehicles including: fuel cell powered lift trucks at Central Grocers’ new distribution center in Joliet, Ill.; hydrogen fuel cell powered forklifts at Nestlé Waters North America in Dallas, Tex.; hydrogen fuel cell powered forklifts at the Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna Pennsylvania in New Cumberland, Pa.; as well as hydrogen fuel cell powered forklifts at several other customers in the United States. In addition, mobile fueling equipment unique and patented by Air Products has been and continues to be deployed to a variety of customers to demonstrate the technology in real world conditions.
Air Products, the leading hydrogen supplier to refineries to assist in making cleaner burning transportation fuels, has unique experience in the hydrogen fueling industry. In fact, in certain market applications, fueling rates of over 10,000 refills per year are occurring. These applications provide an opportunity to assess consumer experiences, evaluate product performance and advance product improvements. The company has placed over 110 hydrogen fueling stations in the United States and 18 countries worldwide. Cars, trucks, vans, buses, scooters, forklifts, locomotives, planes, cell towers, material handling equipment, and even submarines have been fueled with this trend-setting technology that involves Air Products’ know-how, equipment and hydrogen. Use of the company’s technology is increasing and is currently at 175,000 hydrogen fills per year.
Air Products has more than 50 years of hydrogen experience and is on the forefront of hydrogen energy technology development. Air Products has an extensive patent portfolio with over 50 patents in hydrogen dispensing technology. Air Products provides liquid and gaseous hydrogen, and HCNG (hydrogen/compressed natural gas) fueling, and has developed a variety of enabling devices and protocols for fuel dispensing at varied pressures. Hydrogen for these stations is delivered to a site via truck, produced by natural gas reformation, biomass conversion, or by electrolysis, including electrolysis that is solar and wind driven.
About Air Products
Air Products (NYSE:APD) serves customers in industrial, energy, technology and healthcare markets worldwide with a unique portfolio of atmospheric gases, process and specialty gases, performance materials, and equipment and services. Founded in 1940, Air Products has built leading positions in key growth markets such as semiconductor materials, refinery hydrogen, home healthcare services, natural gas liquefaction, and advanced coatings and adhesives. The company is recognized for its innovative culture, operational excellence and commitment to safety and the environment. In fiscal 2009, Air Products had revenues of $8.3 billion, operations in over 40 countries, and 18,900 employees around the globe. For more information, visit www.airproducts.com.
About Plug Power
Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG), an established leader in the development and deployment of clean, reliable energy solutions, integrates fuel cell technology into motive, continuous and backup power products. The Company is actively engaged with private and public customers in targeted markets throughout the world. For more information about how to join Plug Power’s energy revolution as an investor, customer, supplier or strategic partner, please visit www.plugpower.com.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a 75-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland. The family-owned company, founded in 1916, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for 13 consecutive years. In 2010, Wegmans ranked #3 on the list. For more information please visit www.wegmans.com.
In addition to its Retail Service Center, Wegmans now operates 13 stores in Pennsylvania, with plans for 2 more in the future. One of the future stores will open in Malvern, Pa., later this year. Wegmans has approximately 7,000 employees in the state of Pennsylvania.
NOTE: This release may contain forward-looking statements. Actual results could vary materially, due to changes in current expectations.
Katrina Fritz Intwala
Tel: (518) 782-7700, ext. 1360
Tel: (518) 782-7700, ext. 1448