Bush Views Fuel Cell Powered Lift Truck at Graftech

by : Anthony Fontanelle

President George W. Bush viewed Wednesday a demonstration of a fuel cell powered lift truck while touring the GrafTech International Ltd. facility in Parma, Ohio.

GrafTech manufactures graphite material for the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell power unit created by Cellex Power Products Inc., a subsidiary of Plug Power Inc. The Cellex fuel cell system provides clean, reliable power for electric lift trucks made by Crown Equipment Corporation. Representatives from both companies participated in yesterday's tour and lift truck demonstration.

GrafTech is one of the world's biggest manufacturers of high quality synthetic and natural graphite as well as carbon based products. The company manufactures graphite electrodes; products which are essential to the production of electric arc furnace steel.

GrafTech Chief Executive Officer Craig Shular has this to say: "It is an honor for GrafTech to host President Bush. Our team's collaboration with Cellex and Crown has been crucial in gaining support for the early adaptation of what we believe represents a significant growth opportunity in fuel cell power generation."

Crown, headquartered in New Bremen, Ohio, is a leading manufacturer of electric lift trucks in the United States and the fifth biggest lift truck maker in the world. The company's award- winning line of lift trucks has etched a reputation for outstanding product design, engineering and manufacturing. From the smallest hand pallet truck to the highest lifting turret truck, Crown seeks to provide users with safe, efficient and ergonomic lift trucks that lower total cost of ownership and maximize uptime.

"As a technology leader in the lift truck industry, Crown is actively participating in and supporting the development of alternative fuels that provide power savings for our customers," said Crown President Jim Dicke, III. "Crown has been working closely with Cellex for many years to find the right balance of fuel cells, amount of fuel, weight requirements and other factors to give lift truck customers the performance they expect."

Fuel cells offer an ideal value proposition within the $1.5 billion motive power market to operators of large warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers. With fleets consist of hundreds of lift trucks, these operations can benefit from centralized maintenance and fueling infrastructures.

The Cellex Power system offers value to purchasers via increased productivity and diminished fueling time and cost, as well as the eradication of environmental and safety issues linked to conventional lead acid batteries. Adoption in the lift truck market is expected to pave the way for development of other markets on the path toward a hydrogen economy and increased energy independence.

The fuel cell power system from Cellex Power was used to power a Crown model PE End-Controlled Rider Pallet Truck. The Cellex fuel cell contains a fuel cell stack supplied by Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, which incorporates GrafTech's GRAFCELL(R) material as a primary component.

"President Bush's visit marked an excellent opportunity to showcase how fuel cells can be used as an environmentally friendly alternative to batteries for material handling needs in warehouses and distribution centers," said Chris Reid, Cellex Power's President. "Supply chain partners such as GrafTech and Crown are vital in building a strong foundation for the widespread application of fuel cell systems."

President Bush has graced several demonstrations of environment-friendly vehicles including the Chevrolet Volt and other flex-fuel vehicles. And the industry is absorbed in making it big. In the near future, auto shoppers could expect that will cram a flex-fuel vehicle.

Plug Power, a leader in providing clean, reliable on-site energy products, recently purchased Cellex Power and General Hydrogen Corporation as part of its strategic business initiative.