HAMBURG, Germany – At Hannover Messe Trade Fair 2007, the Research Centre presented the first ever concept study of a Jungheinrich electric fork lift truck powered with a direct methanol fuel cell.
This research, conducted by the Research Centre and carried out through its association with Jungheinrich AG, among others, is to determine whether the direct methanol fuel cell would be both technically and economically feasible as a drive concept for industrial trucks.
In contrast to fuel cells based on hydrogen that are currently being researched/developed by the automobile industry and some lift truck companies, direct methanol fuel cell technology is specifically appropriate for applications in the so-called “low power range.” If the current economic conditions continue, this fuel cell technology could be used in electric pedestrian trucks and electric pedestrian stackers after the appropriate research and development has taken place. The target group for possible applications of this technology are the operators of small, tiller-controlled electric stackers and pallet trucks.
Instead of changing the battery, a stacker operator would only need a few minutes to refuel his truck with a mature direct methanol fuel cell. An added benefit is that a fuel cell would last at least twice as long as a battery. And, the infrastructure for filling up with methanol (in contrast to a hydrogen supply) could be realized quickly and cost-effectively.
“Methanol can be handled as easily as gas or diesel fuels,” explains Ralf Baginski, Head of Pre-Development at Jungheinrich AG, “and methanol is also used on a large scale in the chemical industry, so availability is no problem.
Methanol can also be produced from renewable raw materials.”
Should this technology become accepted, it would give designers of industrial trucks further freedom.
“As the fuel cell system is divisible into several subsystems, this might provide additional constructional scope that could be used for more compact pedestrian trucks or more comfortable ride-on trucks,” Baginski concludes.
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