Ohio’s Third Frontier supports fuel cell development in material handling industry

The Ohio Third Frontier program, the state’s commitment to create new technology-based products, companies, industries and jobs, has played a key role in an Ohio company’s efforts to support fuel cell implementation in the material handling industry and work with its customers to see if the technology is a viable option in their operations.

Crown Equipment Corporation, a forklift manufacturer, recently introduced a fuel cell-ready version of the Crown PC 4500, the industry’s first pallet truck designed specifically for fuel cells in an effort to ensure there is no negative impact on safety, efficiency and performance. According to Crown, support from the state and the Ohio Third Frontier program was critical in the research needed to ensure the truck met the same industry standards as a truck running on a battery.

A fleet of the Crown PC 4500 with integrated fuel cells is now being used in Walmart Canada’s new perishable distribution center located outside of Calgary, Alberta. The facility is the first complete distribution center in Canada to be powered exclusively by hydrogen fuel cells.

In 2008, Crown received an Ohio Third Frontier Fuel Cell Program grant valued at $977,000 to help with the first phase of a project to study the technical and commercial barriers to the application of fuel cells in its lift trucks. In 2009, the company received a subsequent $1 million grant to begin researching the integration of fuel cells into the manufacturing of its vehicles.

As of June 2010, Ohio Third Frontier has awarded $180 million to Ohio’s advanced energy sector alone. Through these advanced energy investments, Ohio Third Frontier has fostered the emergence of new technology clusters that include fuel cells and photovoltaics.