Ford Airstream Fuel Cell Headed for Production...
...But not in the Airstream. One of the first large-scale automotive applications of the fuel cell is about to roll out in forklifts used at distribution hubs handling merchandise for retail giant Wal Mart. It'll be a boon for productivity, because today's battery-powered lifts can't last an entire shift and then require most of another shift to recharge. The equally clean and quiet fuel-cell forklifts last almost two shifts and refuel in two minutes, eliminating the need for a second fleet of forklifts parked on chargers.
Hydrogen will be trucked to the distribution centers and stored as a compressed gas. The hydrogen-fueled proton-exchange membrane fuel cells utilize the same basic technology as those found in the Ford Airstream concept, so market experience will contribute to the knowledge-base as engineers at Ballard and Ford continue to engineer the fuel cell for large-scale automotive application.
Acording to Ballard chief technology officer Chris Guzy, development is proceding at a pace that should make fuel-cell power economically and technically feasible by 2010, at such point automakers will be able to start development of fuel-cell vehicles for sale by 2016-2017.
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