Pilots at Robins Air Force Base (AFB) in Georgia, US, are seeing hydrogen power used at their workplace with the recent addition of a hydrogen-powered forklift and a hydrogen dispensing system.
Robins is testing a Quantum HyHauler Plus through a partnership with the US Army National Automotive Centre and the Air Force’s Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO) in Georgia.
The HyHauler is a trailer-mounted hydrogen dispensing system that uses 0.2 gallons (0.75 litres) of tap water an hour and converts it into hydrogen via electrolysis.
It is then stored in 20 2kg (4.4lb), carbon-wrapped storage tanks.
Through a joint venture with ePower Synergies and Plug Power Inc, a battery-powered forklift has been converted to a hydrogen-powered forklift.
The HyHauler produces about 2kgs (4.4lbs) of hydrogen a day, which is more than the 1.8kg needed to fuel the forklift for an eight-hour shift.
The Air Force is currently testing the hydrogen-powered forklift by comparing its productivity to that of a battery-powered forklift.
“We are going to put this hydrogen forklift in a warehouse, where we plan to operate it for eight to 16 hours a day and then refuel it after each shift,” says Scott Slyfield, program manager for the project.
Mike Mead, APTO’s chief, says one of the keys to implanting the alternative energy source for practical use is not requiring the users to learn new ways of doing things, but making the energy transition transparent.
“That’s the beauty of everything,” Mead says.
“It looks and operates the same as everything we have. It’s just part of the Air Force’s initiative to advance alternative fuels and energy into the Air Force’s daily structure.”
The HyHauler has extensive leak-prevention equipment, including a flashing light on the trailer’s exterior to alert people to any hydrogen leak, a fan that sucks out hydrogen leaks in the trailer and sensors that enable the system to shut off automatically if a leak occurs.