LATHAM, NY - Clean energy company Plug Power Inc. said that major food service distributor Sysco has deployed 98 fuel-cell units to power its fleet of electric lift trucks at a new Houston distribution center. 

Houston-based Sysco Corp. primarily serves restaurants, hotels, hospitals and educational facilities. Sysco celebrated a grand opening of its new distribution center on June 17. 

Plug Power is a developer of hydrogen fuel-cell systems, which generate clean energy. Plug Power's GenDrive fuel cells have been placed into 72 Raymond Corp. Model 8400 pallet trucks and 26 Raymond Model 7400 Reach-Fork trucks operated by Sysco. 

The units are moving both dry and freezer goods throughout the 585,000-square-foot facility. Cold-storage areas of the distribution center can reach temperatures as low as -8 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike lead-acid batteries that do not react well under cold temperatures, fuel cells perform reliably despite the sub-zero temperature. 

Indoor hydrogen fueling dispensers, provided by Air Products, are strategically located throughout the distribution center. Truck operators can quickly refuel the GenDrive units in less than two minutes, completely eliminating the need to change, store, charge and maintain multiple lead-acid batteries per truck. 

Plug Power's environmentally friendly power solution also allows Sysco to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions created at its new facility. GenDrive, fueled with hydrogen, creates only water and heat as by-products. 

"Sysco has been a great customer to work with throughout GenDrive's field testing and we're excited to see them now convert a full Raymond fleet from batteries to fuel cells," said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. "Sysco is a market leader in adopting green technologies and we are proud to be a partner in their successful efforts to commercialize alternative energy resources." 

Sysco has been involved in the development and field testing of GenDrive power units since 2001. The company operates more than 190 distribution centers across North America. 

This installation is partially funded by an award made to Sysco in April 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The DOE intends this funding to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of fuel cells and create jobs in fuel cell manufacturing and installation.