Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

Advantages of Hydrogen Forklifts

by Paul Hinz

The rise in popularity of electric forklifts in conjunction with continued environmental concerns surround greenhouse gas emissions and availability of natural resources has led to manufacturers researching and designing a new type of forklift powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

This week’s blog and discusses some of the advantages of hydrogen powered forklifts.

Hydrogen fuelcell tech

Advantages of hydrogen powered forklifts include:

Better forklift performance

Current lead acid powered forklifts performance degrades over the course of a shift as battery power is drained the voltage supplied to the unit reduces.

With its ability to provide constant voltage to the forklift until the fuel tank is fully emptied allows hydrogen powered forklifts to provide better overall performance per tank of fuel and across longer shifts.

Battery changes are no longer necessary

Current battery electric forklifts run times are governed by the storage capacity of the unit battery,

Forklifts that are required to operate over an extended shift may require a mid-shift battery change to ensure the unit is able to operate until the end of the prescribed shift.

Whilst undertaking the battery change both the forklift and its operator are removed from operations leading to a downturn in productivity and efficiency.

This can have a large overall impact on operations if multiple battery changes are required at the same time removing multiple forklifts and operators from operations for an extended period of time.

Hydrogen forklifts can be quickly and efficiently refueled from a bowser system very similar how we fill up vehicles at a service station currently.

Refueling of hydrogen forklifts can take as little as three minutes compared to up to 20 minutes for current lead acid batteries.
Companies may also experience capital equipment cost savings as battery charging equipment and battery lifting equipment such as cranes will not need to be purchased and installed within the facility.

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Removal of battery and combustion engine issues

Switching to hydrogen powered forklifts removes a number of health and environmental issues associated with current battery and combustion engine forklifts.

Issues include but aren’t limited to:

  • Chemicals
  • Off-gasing
  • Emissions

Combustion engine forklifts in particular produce chemicals and emissions when operating, in large amounts and in enclosed workspaces such as warehouses chemical and emission build ups can have long-term detrimental impacts on worker health.

Current forklift batteries must be degassed as part of the battery charging process, again without the correct ventilation of the battery charging area or room this build-up of degassing fumes can be detrimental to worker health.

Hydrogen forklifts remove the health risks associated with chemicals and off-gassing through the removal of the need to charge batteries.

Any emissions from hydrogen forklifts do not contain the dangerous mixture of chemicals and gases of combustion forklifts as they are emitted as water vapour or heat by products.

Yale hydrogen fuel cell technology 1

Reduced environmental impact

A positive flow on effect from the aforementioned reduced chemical and off-gassing emissions is a reduction in a company’s negative environmental impacts.

Hydrogen powered forklifts produce significantly less harmful emissions compared to current forklifts powered by LPG, diesel and batteries.

Reduced reliance on energy providers

To operate current forklifts operators are reliant on an energy provider to charge them for operations whether it is an LPG or diesel refiner and supplier or electricity company to provide mains electricity to charge batteries.

Adopting hydrogen powered forklifts allows operators independence from these providers.

Hydrogen fuel can be stored on site long-term reducing reliance on energy providers for operations to continue in the event of fuel shortage or long-term electricity outage.

Reclaim warehouse space

Depending on the size of forklift fleet being operated and how many battery chargers are installed to keep units running across long shift (particularly for 24/7 operations) a large amount of floor space within a facility may need to be dedicated to a battery room fitted with all the necessary charging and changeover equipment.

Important storage space may be tied up in the battery room that could be better utilised for the storage of products.

Hydrogen storage and refuelling equipment have a much smaller footprint and will occupy less vital storage space.

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To find out how your business can benefit from utilising hydrogen forklift contact us on 13 22 54 or email us.  

Reference List

  1. Nuvera.com. 2016. 6 Value Drivers For Fuel Cells In Materials Handling. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 March 2020].
  2. Nuvera.com. 2019. Limitless Possibilities: Why Hydrogen?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 March 2020].