Plug Power, a fuel cell manufacturer based in Latham, New York, has been designing new hydrogen fuel cells for use in battery-powered delivery trucks.
Plug Power, according to the Albany Times Union, currently makes fuel cells that are used in fork lift trucks.
Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh said recently during a conference call that future applications for hydrogen fuel cells will be similar to that of the fork truck market, which would be vehicles that are used locally and returned to a base of operations at night.
“Tethered vehicles, ones that travel locally but always come back home in night such as delivery vehicles fit into this profile,” Marsh said.
The U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center reports that major auto manufacturers like Hyundai and Toyota offer hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles in areas where hydrogen is available.
The DOE predicts that by the end of this year there should be at least 50 retail hydrogen fuel stations across the U.S. Currently, the DOE lists 29 stations, most of which are located in California.
Plug Power has been working on a $3 million research project alongside the DOE and FedEx in an effort to triple the range of electric vehicles through hydrogen fuel cell technology.
However, given the lack of hydrogen fuel stations, Plug Power envisions delivery vehicles fueling up at warehouses where they’re based.
“As you recall FedEx wants to deploy hybrid hydrogen battery powered deliveries trucks to expand the useful range of these vehicles from 60 to 160 miles,” Marsh said. “This is a perfect example of a captive fleet vehicle and will be a fuel cell and hydrogen platform that will have the flexibility in many markets in the future.”
(Hydrogen fuel stations in the U.S. according to the U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center.)