Panasonic Introduces Fuel-cell Forklifts to Its Factory

Solar electricity used to produce hydrogen

2019/11/22 21:03
Sousuke Kudou, technical writer
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The H2 Kusatsu Farm (source: Panasonic)

Panasonic Corp announced Nov 18, 2019, that it has built a hydrogen station on the premises of the Kusatsu base of Appliances Company (its in-house company based in Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture) and started operation of fuel-cell forklifts.

For the hydrogen station, "H2 Kusatsu Farm," Panasonic employed two methods. One is a water-electrolysis hydrogen production unit, which electrolyzes water by using solar electricity to produce hydrogen. And the other is a compact hydrogen production unit that reforms gas by using the technology of the "Enefarm" residential fuel cell. The hydrogen station can stably supply hydrogen regardless of weather conditions.

The filling capacity and filling pressure of the hydrogen station are 29Nm3 and 35MPa, respectively. It can produce hydrogen for about two fuel-cell forklifts per day and can fully charge them in about three minutes. Compared with forklifts equipped with a storage battery, whose charging time is long, fuel-cell forklifts can be more efficiently used because of smaller time loss.

Panasonic uses the fuel-cell forklifts for carrying finished products, etc in the Enefarm factory on the premises of the Kusatsu base. And the company will push forward with the development of hydrogen production technologies while examining the operation stability and economic efficiency of the hydrogen system.

Panasonic released the Enefarm, which generates electricity and heat by using hydrogen produced from city gas, in 2009. Currently, it is also selling the product in seven European countries including Germany and the UK. Moreover, the company is developing a pure-hydrogen-type fuel-cell system that efficiently generates electricity by using hydrogen as fuel, planning to commercialize it in April 2021.