Wegmans Food Markets is the recipient of a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) to install material handling equipment powered by hydrogen fuel cells at its Retail Service Center in Pottsville, Pa.
“In terms of sustainability, energy reduction is one of our top priorities. This investment in fuel cell technology will help our employees, our business and our community.” – Mike Cullen, Wegmans VP of distribution planning
The $1 million grant will be used for equipment such as lift trucks and pallet jacks, and will offset a portion of the costs for installing an on-site hydrogen infrastructure, including an outdoor hydrogen storage tank and indoor fueling dispensers.
The grocer’s material handling equipment is currently powered by lead-acid batteries. These machines start out with a full charge, but over the course of a shift, the equipment slows down until the battery dies completely. With the new fuel-cell powered equipment, the machines will perform at peak until it’s time to refuel (which takes less than one minute).
The project will take place in three phases, with the first being installation of the hydrogen infrastructure and conversion of the equipment in Wegmans’ produce facility. Wegmans will purchase 50 Crown pallet trucks and nine Crown standup forklifts and use Plug Power’s GenDrive fuel cells to power the equipment. The company expects this phase to to be operational in November 2009.
Simply by converting the lift equipment in the produce area of its facility to hydrogen fuel cells, Wegmans estimates that CO2 emissions will be reduced by an amount equivalent to removing 134 cars from the road each year.
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