In a 24/7 business economy, materials must be handled fast and efficiently. This could not be done without tow-cars on airports and forklifts in factories and distribution centers. Currently, tow-cars and forklifts are powered by batteries or internal combustion engines (ICE). Both are far from ideal. Batteries have limited capacity and require regular recharging, which limits productivity. ICEs generate exhaust gasses which limits indoor operability.

PEM fuel cell systems do not have these drawbacks. Fuel cell applications can increase productivity and operability in materials handling situations. At Nedstack we are actively involved in projects to develop fuel cell systems that meet industry demands. One project contained of the development of a PEM fuel cell driven Material handling truck for Schiphol airport. The other consisted of the development of a forklift.

Tow-cars and forklifts are mostly unsuspended. This means that the equipment is subjected to harsh conditions. The projects gave Nedstack first-hand understanding how to integrate our stacks in systems to improve availability, increase productivity and reduce total cost of ownership.

HAN people moverhan people mover
The HAN University is one of the top-rated universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. It used battery operated vehicles to transport people on their campus. They wanted to convert a small battery electric vehicle (BEV) to a fuel cell vehicle (FCEV). As early as Q2 2006, Nedstack delivered a system with a 2.5 kW stack.

The people mover was the first result of the fuel cell activity from the HAN. Fuel cell technology now is an important part of the curriculum of HAN University.

Nedstack supplied a 2.5kW fuel cell stack and control system for the HAN people mover. It is still being used at the university, among others to train students on the application and use of fuel cells, and to test power management systems.

Schiphol Airport tow-car
Every day a huge amount of travelers fly to and from Schiphol airport. This requires a complex logistical process in which baggage tractors and similar vehicles play a vital role. However, these baggage tractors and similar vehicles are the source of approximately 30% of the CO2 produced on Schiphol.

Schiphol airport tow-car

Schiphol already has approximately 80 diesel-electrical vehicles in use. The diesel engine is not allowed to run indoors so the vehicle switches to batteries. Outside the diesel engine will start, emitting harmful substances into the air. Schiphol also has some electric vehicles, but often the distances are too great when using only batteries.

The system has a 8kWe stack, battery pack and a 350 bar hydrogen tank. Due to limitation of the filling station the tank could only be filled to ¾ of its capacity. Nevertheless the tractor had enough capacity to complete a day shift without the need for refuelling. The system including the tank has been designed to fit in the same space as the original diesel pack. This greatly increases the range compared to battery vehicles and reduces emissions (both noise and harmful substances) compared to diesel engines. Operators were very enthusiastic about the modification, enjoying the lack of noise while working.

The Schiphol tow-car was a joint project of Nedstack, Silent Motor and HAN University. Nedstack supplied the fuel cell stack and system technology.

VTT Forklift
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has integrated two 8kW stacks into a Kalmar ECF-55 forklift. The fuel cell system developed is a triple hybrid (fuel cell, super capacitor and battery).

The system was operated both in laboratory with artificial load, and outdoors installed in a real forklift to gain experience and know-how under real conditions. Outdoor tests included a typical work cycle for a forklift with a 2.4 ton load. Outdoors temperature during the tests varied between -5°C and -15°C, cold enough to confirm the cold-start capabilities of PEM fuel stacks.
Nedstack provided the stacks and integration know-how.