FM Logistic is in the implementation phase of its green integrated hydrogen project. The project is being carried out through the implementation of a hydrogen station at its logistics center in Illescas (Toledo). Last July, the hydrogen station was tested at H2B2’s Seville factory. In October, it was installed at the center with the relevant quality and operation tests. In November, together with the Electrón Coslada Group, the first forklift trucks for moving goods were converted. The forklifts are fuelled with hydrogen and the first refueling tests have already been carried out.
FM Logistic currently uses traditional lead-acid batteries at this site. These require hours of charging and cooling, inconsistent power and a limited autonomy of approximately one shift. As with any mobile phone or electronic device, a spare battery must be available so that the operator has a charged battery to work with for the next shift and does not have to wait for the battery to be recharged. Similarly, these batteries have the disadvantage of using corrosive compounds and being heavy. They can cause occupational accidents during replacement.
That is why FM Logistic wants to go one step further. The logistics company opted for hydrogen fuel cells for its forklift trucks. In the future, the company wants to use it for external use in trucks and vans as well.
Adaptation of forklift trucks
Each type of truck has its own procedure for adjusting hydrogen batteries. However, there are three points common to all, whatever their structure: redesign the compartment so that the battery, being narrower than lead acid batteries, fits snugly and does not move or get lost; include a counterweight to the hydrogen battery (it weighs less than a lead acid battery), to avoid the “leverage effect”; and create ventilation windows to allow the hydrogen battery to be placed in the compartment.
We say that FM Logistic uses integrated green hydrogen because it has a hydrogen station to supply its internal vehicles. And it obtains the energy necessary to carry out the electrolysis (the process of separating hydrogen and oxygen atoms) by means of photovoltaic energy from solar panels. These solar panels are located on the roof of its Illescas warehouse.
In this way, only oxygen is released into the environment, a gas that is indispensable in the environment and necessary for human life. On the other hand, the main raw material for the hydrogen station is water (H2O), a low-cost renewable resource and source of energy. FM Logistic will supply its hydrogen station with the same mains water that supplies its warehouse. The quantities of water used are not significant and part of it is reused for irrigation and the rest is returned to the atmosphere in the form of steam, so the water cycle is not altered at all. This is another difference from the lead acid batteries used in most warehouses, which have the potential to leak acid, a chemical compound that is hazardous to warehouse personnel and the environment.
The next step will be to complete the testing and troubleshooting phase. With this, the hydrogen station will be available for use within the center’s normal operations. In this way, we will become the first logistics company in Spain to have a hydrogen station in a warehouse with forklifts adapted for this purpose.
Juan Carlos de Pablo, responsible for the project, declares: “With this pioneering, replicable and scalable project, FM Logistic takes a decisive step on the path of innovation focused on respect for the environment, demonstrating with facts that the road to sustainability in logistics is compatible with the operation and can be taken”.