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Well-to-Forks Study: Fuel Cells Better Competing Technology

Monday, October 27, 2008

The results of a well-to-forks study, conducted by Argonne National Labs, were released last week at the Industrial Truck Association annual meeting. A typical well-to-wheels analysis looks at the green house gas emissions of a vehicle from production of the fuel that runs the vehicle all the way to operating the actual unit. This particular study was on lift trucks (hence the well-to-forks term, as in forklift), and compared three different operating modes: fuel cell powered lift trucks using hydrogen generated on-site from natural gas, battery electric lift trucks recharged by the US average grid mix, and propane engine lift trucks.

The study concludes that fuel cell trucks produce 800 g/kWh of greenhouse gas emissions, while battery powered lift trucks produce 1300 g/kWh - 63% more than fuel cells. This is an increasingly important consideration in corporate America, as more and more companies look at the financial, environmental, and social impact of their carbon footprint. Not surprisingly, the study found that both fuel cell and battery powered trucks are significantly cleaner than ICE trucks operating on propane.

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