Hydrogen in logistics

Distribution centres: all hustle and bustle. Employees moving goods from A to B or from C to D with their pallet transporters. That requires a huge amount of energy. But what if the pallet transporters were completely CO2-neutral? And could be filled in under 90 seconds? And would run for much longer? Then you’d invest in them immediately, wouldn’t you? We thought the same.

Pallet transporters with a fuel cell

Today, there are already a lot of pallet transporters running on hydrogen in our Dassenveld distribution centre in Halle. They fill up at the hydrogen station on site or at one of the fuelling points in the distribution centre.

The pallet transporters all have a fuel cell which turns the hydrogen back into electricity for propulsion. We are expecting a total of 200 fuel cells, 75 of which are operational in 2018.

Pallet transporter in distribution centre
A lot of pallet transporters in our distribution centre are already running on hydrogen.

What are the benefits of pallet transporters running on hydrogen?

A hydrogen pallet transporter combines the benefits of a traditional pallet transporter (you can fill up quickly) and an electric one (no CO2 emissions). But pallet transporters which use hydrogen are a lot more efficient than the classic electric models.

  • Filling a fuel cell takes 90 seconds, recharging a battery takes at least 6 hours.
  • Employees don’t have to change batteries. This saves a lot of time.
  • Fuel cells retain their maximum power for longer.
  • Fuel cells last a lot longer.
Filling up hydrogen pallet transporter
Hydrogen pallet transporters can fill up in 90 seconds.

European support through Interreg V

We’ve invested a lot of money ourselves in our hydrogen tests. But we also get European support. The indoor fuelling points in the Dassenveld distribution centre and 75 new fuel cells are part of the Waterstofregio 2.0 (Hydrogen region 2.0) project. Through this, the EU wants to build up knowledge and experience of hydrogen applications in logistics and, at the same time, to inspire large logistics centres. 

Waterstofregio 2.0 is part of the Interreg V programma Vlaanderen-Nederland (Flanders-The Netherlands Interreg V programme). This is a cross-border cooperation programme with financial support from the European Fund for Regional Development. So we’re not alone in our belief in hydrogen.

Status Hydrogen region 2.0 project - November 2018

1. Hydrogen station Antwerpen

In a first phase, several conversations have been held with possible users of a new hydrogen station to be developed in Wilrijk (Antwerp). Based on these talks, it is possible to simulate the expected purchase of hydrogen which is important to draw the design. The location of the hydrogen station is set and the discussions with permit granters have been organised. 

2. Indoor tank dispensers and forklift trucks

  • The indoor dispensers have been installed and are operational.  
  • The roll-out of forklift trucks running on fuel cells has started: 30 forklift trucks are now running on hydrogen. 
  • The electrolysis of the existing station has been upgraded and the installation of connection points for external hydrogen delivery has started. 

With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Affordable and clean energy Industry, innovation & infrastructure Sustainable cities and communities Climate action