In our previous blog posts we have detailed some of the things happening with warehouse automation, the electric chain in logistics that could render a whole human stage in the supply chain obsolete. But how about taking this idea further still. What about electrically powered forklifts? How about wholly automated warehouses with electric pallets and automated trucks, eerie right?
These advancements in electric power are real, companies have been toying with the idea in the 21st century of making this a viable alternative to the petroleum powered vehicle and automobile.
But why is this the case? Since the beginning of the 19th century inventors have been successfully producing electrically powered vehicles, from wagons to GM’s Evo 1. However in 2015 the ‘eco friendly’ hybrid car has gone ‘mainstream’ as one 2013 article suggested. Now, you are more likely to be knocked over by the silent, futuristic and metallic like aura of a Toyota Prius quietly driving down the street in front of you as you systemically refresh your emails whilst drinking a coffee and jamming to Ray Charles; than to see it as a cult interest.
Proton Powered ForkLift Trucks
A fuel cell triple hybrid bus by Proton Motor, based in Germany.
Big companies require big capital to innovate and have an impact. Proton Power Systems is one of them. Based in Munich, Germany the company have worked hard to produce innovative and powerful fuel cells as an alternative to the normal power systems. And indeed:
“Proton Motor had historically secured external funding from Volvo Technology Transfer AB and other German institutional and private investors. These funds facilitated the undertaking of several pilot projects and, to date, over 100 fuel cell modules have been built. During early 2006, Proton Motor’s ongoing commercial operations required further capital and Proton Power Systems was formed in February 2006 as a vehicle to facilitate interim funding. Proton Power Systems subsequently acquired Proton Motor in a share for share exchange in April and May 2006.” Proton Power Systems
Huge Efficiency Savings
Proton Power have addressed that problem with the electric hybrid system forklift. They unveiled the world’s first triple-hybrid forklift system in Puchheim, near Munich, Germany this year. Designed as a plug-and-drive technology by Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH (Proton Motor), a wholly owned subsidiary of Proton Power, the triple-hybrid system offers significant cost and energy savings and works with all battery types and brands of forklift trucks.
Buses and forklift trucks are a key market segment for the company and being able to offer the unique tech puts the company at an important point for the move into the commercialisation of the products. The triple-hybrid system, the PM Package MH30, combines a fuel cell, a battery and supercapacitors, there website says:
How An Electric Forklift Works
“to form an energy-efficient power system, replacing the standard battery package for the Class 1 forklift with an 80 V, 700Ah battery. As all components are used in their optimal operation range, the system offers over 50% energy savings compared with diesel engine forklifts and fuel-cell-only systems. In addition, an intelligent energy management system controls the power distribution between the fuel cell, supercapacitors, and battery. The energy recovered during braking is stored in the supercapacitors and batteries, which provide peak power during operations such as acceleration and lifting heavy loads. The 10 kW proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell delivers sufficient energy to allow the forklift to work for an eight-hour shift and also features a short recharge time where users can refuel hydrogen for a full working shift in just one minute.”
Proton Power Systems
Clearly the technology, and development of the company is at an exciting stage to be introduced across the board the company says expensive charging stations and inefficient batteries is no longer a concern. However there are a number of factors affecting the growth in the power systems market, including:
- ongoing depletion of fossil fuel reserves. Hydrogen has the potential to replace these finite resources.
- current and future air quality regulation surrounding environmentally harmful emissions, in particular, CO2 reduction targets.
- growing industry and consumer demand for alternative sources of energy.
- energy security concerns and needs.
- the potential long term competitiveness of the transportation industry.
There is a huge potential to bring all of these alternative power cells to market, only our economics and systems block that rise in fossil fuel consumption and shunning of this technology.