US Navy boffins are seeking to kit out American military stores depots with hydrogen-powered forklifts, or - as they prefer - "hydrogen-fueled material handling equipment". Back in January, the Naval Surface Warfare Centre, crane division, issued a request for proposals seeking contractors to provide hydrogen-driven forklifts …
that a big part of the ballast weight in a forklifts is provided by the batteries, and the space they used will be taken up by the necessary bigger hydrogen tanks.. so cue bigger forklifts that can only cope with light loads. genius!
This is unfortunate
Hydrogen is a purely political response to environmental concerns. As is pointed out in the article, it's not a primary fuel, it's just a means of storing energy. Even current battery technology is far more efficient, especially when you consider the cost of producing and transporting hydrogen, versus the cost of squirting electricity down a wire (which is lossy but not as lossy as loading it on a truck and driving it around).
They should be pushing for better batteries or capacitors, not creating pork projects to encourage dead-end hydrogen technology.
"That said, it seems likely that the hydrogen used in the new forklifts will still be ultimately produced by burning ordinary hydrocarbon fuels in some form. "
- Not if the required electricity is produced by renewable or nuclear sources ....
Modified propane fueled fork-lift?
You can already get and run a fork-lift on propane / LPG, it should be easy to switch to hydrogen.
Once the hydrogen refilling infrastructure was present, you could switch to fuel-cell electric power, but surely a lead-acid battery is proven technology, would add ballast, and recyclable.
Ever Hear of Propane???????
Just goes to show you how absolutely wasteful and downright STUPID the US Military are.
So they need "hydrogen-fueled material handling equipment" and they award Air Products a contract for $5,608,817 to do R&D.
I could take an existing garden variety propane fueled forklift, change the propane orifice out for one suitably sized for hydrogen and install a different high pressure regulator for a total of $2,100 including labor.
However, since propane is C3H8, the existing forklift is ALREADY "Hydrogen Fueled"(and far more efficient than Hydrogen EVER will be). Meets the intent of the specifications doesn't it?
I guess we need to bring this to the attention of the General Accounting Office to find out what Air Products is going to do with the other $5,606,717 !!!!
Yeah, the US Navy and forklifts...
Have a look at this:
Plenty more where that came from.
DoD R&D bugets.
Who still believes that these budgets are anything else than state funding of research ... This is a good thing, maybe not the nicest way to fund research I must say, as the first application of all research is millitary, but still state funding which is good (state takes more risks than industry, what is a milion in US budget, probably what it would cost for a 10 ms delay of the plane retreiving troops from Irak :) )
USA are doing that all the time, and with fat loads of money.
So what, you have to keep the illusion of free competitive market to force it around you... which is very profitable, but mostly for US.
Environmentally friendly forklifts
Time to rush and patent wind-powered forklift, solar-powered forklift, recyclable forklift and bio-degradable forklift.
Fossil, non-fossil - I'm the guy with the lungs
Propane is a fossil fuel. We're going to run out. Full stop.
Hydrogen can be produced from sea water. Granted, even the supply of sea water isn't infinite, but we're not going to run out within several millenia.
Production of hydrogen from sea water can be accomplished using wave-powered generator buoys, solar power plants, nuclear plants, or even coal-fired plants (although, obviously, the latter is least-favored).
For forklifts, direct conversion of propane-fueled to H2-fueled would be the ideal. However, as a consumer, I would rather be able to buy a kit originally designed for a forklift that will allow me to adapt my gasoline-fueled car to a hydrogen/battery-powered hybrid. So, carry on, US Navy!
The "Hydrogen Economy" is a "leg pull"
Let's see: you take hydrocarbons and spray steam into it. Gives H2 and CO. Then you render the CO into CO2. Oh, wait - we're getting hydrogen for sure, but we're getting the stuff we don't want. Next tactic.
You use electrolysis to split H2O into 2H2 and O2. How? We could burn fossil fuels... no, that's no good. How about solar/wind power? Well, maybe - if we're willing to live with solar panels and wind turbines EVERYwhere, because guess what? It takes more energy to extract the hydrogen than the hydrogen returns.
Dump this stupid idea (the hydrogen economy one) and let's just use the solar and wind to generate our electricity directly. THEN let's learn to conserve our energy, and stop living like there's no tomorrow.
Different markets, different capabilities.
"That said, it seems likely that the hydrogen used in the new forklifts will still be ultimately produced by burning ordinary hydrocarbon fuels in some form."
I'm in agreement that the US Navy could have plenty of hydrogen generated by the nuclear reactors on either its vessels or other land based military operations. With the new reactors that operate at 830 degrees, it is practically free.
I also agree that for civilians, "the hydrogen economy" (at least has it has been marketed all these years) is basically a marketing lie. But the military is its own market, with its own needs. We consumers are a far greater influence in exhaust emissions.
Besides, if you think about it, expecting 'environmentalism' to be the highest priority of a governmental branch that exists only to KILL PEOPLE and BLOW THINGS UP is a little silly, isn't it?
Environmentalists lazy to think
"Dump this stupid idea (the hydrogen economy one) and let's just use the solar and wind to generate our electricity directly. THEN let's learn to conserve our energy, and stop living like there's no tomorrow."
It never stops to maaze me how LAZY or uneducated many envinonmentalists are - and I'm always amazed by their ability to ignore facts.
Hydrogen (as in hydrogen economy) is NOT a power source. It is a medium used to transfer energy from where it is generated to where it is needed.
Right now, solar and wind are *unusable* as main power sources. They're unreliable, and we have almost no means of storing electricity on a large scale. People are used to the fact that when it is midnight, they flick a switch and the electricity is there to do whatever they want. Solar and wind CAN'T do that at the moment.
Hydrogen can be generated from fossil fuels (stupid, but doable), or by hydrolysis. You COULD use solar or wind-generated electricity for this (it wouldn't be very cost-efficient, though), because this would give you the much needed ability to store energy, but for this to be worth it *you need that damn hydrogen economy*.
Using electricity, be it solar or nuclear-generated, to produce hydrogen is worth it only if the hydrogen-fueled cars/appliances/whatever become available. HYDROGEN ECONOMY IS ACTUALY A BIG CHANCE FOR SOLAR, WIND AND OTHER "GREEN" TECHNOLOGIES!
Hydrogen might have a niche role
In this case. Operating a forklift on hydrogen would have two advantages.
1) downtime would be minimal, as refuelling can be acheived faster than traditional battery charging
2) In a poorly ventilated environment, I would rather be standing next to a hydrogen powered engine exhaust rather than one powered by hydrocarbon.
Outside these two niche requirements, the rest is SFW