More than 100 business leaders and government representatives attended the official ribbon-cutting for the new Sysco Corporation (NYSE:SYY) 585,000-square-foot food distribution facility in north Houston TX recently. The company showcased its hydrogen fuel cell technology that powers its pallet trucks and forklifts.
Sysco Houston’s entire warehouse fleet, consisting of 72 pallet trucks and 26 forklifts, uses Plug Power’s GenDrive hydrogen fuel cell power units. Hydrogen fuel cells have a life of up to 10 years, considerably more than the average three to four years for incumbent batteries. Compared with lead-acid batteries, the fuel cell power sources extend the life of the trucks and deliver a steady source of power.
Using GenDrive hydrogen fuel cells also means battery charging and changing equipment, as well as reserve batteries, are eliminated from operational costs. Power units are fueled in as little as two minutes. At the same time, Sysco is no longer responsible for disposal of toxic lead-acid batteries. Because hydrogen is a clean fuel, greenhouse gas emissions at the facility are reduced. The only by-products generated by the material handling equipment are heat and water.
This new facility also houses Air Products’ hydrogen technology and fueling infrastructure that allows the company to receive liquid hydrogen fuel, convert it to a gaseous state, and then dispense it into the fuel cells through two hydrogen fuel pumps in the new warehouse. The fueling dispensers are located to optimize operator time and improve efficiency.
The recent event included presentations by Sysco executives, the Department of Energy, and the Greenspoint District, as well as demonstrations of the technology by Sysco partners Plug Power and Air Products. This cost-shared hydrogen fuel cell project includes a grant provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Sysco operates 186 distribution facilities serving about 400,000 customers. Sysco Houston’s distribution facility is at 10710 Greens Crossing Boulevard in north Houston.
For more information, visit www.sysco.com.