PROVIDENCE, RI - United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) plans to adopt hydrogen fuel cell technology to power the lift truck fleet at its Sarasota, Fla. distribution center. Intended to improve efficiency, productivity and reliability, a total of 65 GenDrive fuel cell-powered lift trucks will be mobilized at the Sarasota distribution facility, with a targeted completion date in June 2010.
The company will add 29 new hydrogen fuel cell-powered lift trucks to its fleet, and 36 existing lift trucks will be retrofitted to hydrogen fuel cell technology.
As part of the Sarasota initiative to replace lead acid batteries and their associated charging equipment with hydrogen fuel cells, UNFI has partnered with a number of companies to implement the roll-out, including Plug Power Inc., Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., and Abel Womack, Inc.
By converting UNFI's Sarasota lift truck fleet to hydrogen fuel cells, the company expects carbon emissions will be reduced by approximately 132 metric tons annually, an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of 35 automobiles.
"Once implemented, this fuel cell project is expected to create annual energy savings of approximately 640,000 kilowatt hours," said Tom Dziki, senior vice president of Sustainable Development.