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Plug Power receives NYSERDA funding to evaluate use of fuel cells for delivery of perishables

Clean, hydrogen-based energy to replace diesel generator to power freight truck refrigeration unit over one-year testing period.
By Modern Materials Handling Staff
November 13, 2013

Plug Power has received funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to demonstrate the viability of replacing diesel generators with hydrogen fuel cells for powering transport refrigeration units (TRUs) on trailers hauled by trucks that deliver perishable goods.

Plug Power was selected by NYSERDA to develop a fuel cell and interconnect hardware, which provides connection to refrigeration unit equipment, based on its GenDrive fuel cell architecture. The Plug Power TRU fuel cell will power a Carrier Transicold refrigeration unit for the Sysco Corp. distribution center in Long Island, N.Y., for 12 months. Hydrogen will be supplied by Air Products.

Successful completion of this trial is expected to open the door to hydrogen fuel cell expansion into the refrigerated transport market – employing clean energy to regulate cold temperatures for fresh and frozen foods, such as produce, dairy products, meats, ice cream and other items while en route to grocery warehouses, distribution centers and retail destinations.

Most of the 300,000 TRUs in operation across the U.S. today are powered by diesel, which is expensive and environmentally hazardous due to the emission of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the course of one day, a typical TRU can consume about 10 gallons of diesel and emit 101 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is in stark contrast to Plug Power hydrogen fuel cells, which have zero CO2 emissions, and release only a small amount of heat and water.

Plug Power received $500,000 from NYSERDA to pursue this demonstration project.

“The NYSERDA opportunity is crucial to Plug Power, as we move forward with development of fuel cell solutions for TRU deployments,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “Along with a similar, recently announced TRU project funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, this contract enables us to execute on our strategy to implement hydrogen fuel cells in markets adjacent to the material transport industry.”

Transportation in the United States is responsible for 75% of the country’s oil use, resulting in 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced.

Plug Power recently announced it had also won a $650,000 contract from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories via the Dept. of Energy to develop fuel cells for the TRU market.

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About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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