Use of a hydrogen-powered industrial truck fleet under production conditions        
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Result presentation H2IntraDrive on 11/23/2015 at BMW-Werk Leipzig

On Monday, November 23, 2015 will take place the presentation of the results of the research project H2IntraDrive at BMW-Werk Leipzig. Interested participitans can inform Mr. Micheli per mail at If there are too many participiants the participation will be limited to one representative per company or randomly selected.

Results of the online survey on hydrogen-powered industrial trucks

The chair Fördertechnik Materialfluss Logistik (fml) at TUM carried out an online survey on the use of hydrogen-powered industrial trucks between May and August 2015. Altogether 109 experts were interviewed from industry and academia worldwide.

The analysis of the online survey is available as a free download on the website of the chair fml and can be downloaded here.

A guide for the use of hydrogen-powered industrial trucks is available for download

In the guide all the necessary steps and the necessary knowledge from the project idea to the commissioning of hydrogen-powered industrial trucks and the infrastructure required for this will be described. Furthermore, necessary permits and security measures are demonstrated.

The guide is available as a free download on the website of the chai fml and can be downloaded here.


New products such as the BMW i3 and i8 have among other things, the objective to set new standards in the area of sustainable production. This is only possible by combining a large number of measures and technologies to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emission in single subareas.

CFRP- body shop BMW i3

In the intralogistic segment battery powered industrial trucks are used for many years. The disadvantage of using battery powered industrial trucks is the battery itself (e.g. lead-acid battery) and the associated battery management. Consequently result is an increase in costs and resources due to long charging times, specially separated charging rooms, danger from acid leakage, spare batteries and their multiple handling.

With regard to the raised aspects fuel cell powered industrial trucks provide advantages in comparison to battery powered industrial trucks. Industrial trucks powered by fuel cells in combination with "green" hydrogen have the potential to lower CO2 emission. Beyond that the short refueling times lead to higher operating times and accordingly higher productivity of the industrial trucks. This spares time and resource intensive battery changes. Furthermore the majority of the required hydrogen infrastructure can be moved outside, which leads to space-savings in the production facility.

Despite these and other advantages of fuel cell systems, only a few prototype applications in Europe are known. Those prototypes did neither make it to become a production vehicle, nor was the application after the prototype phase further monitored. Reasons for that are amongst other things the lack of a holistic view on the supply of the production through fuel cell powered industrial trucks and thus the lack in potential evidence of a comprehensive application.

The H2IntraDrive project investigates and evaluates those advantages in a fully productive environment. With the long-term goal to empower fuel cell powered industrial trucks to industrial maturity and thus enable a more integral and sustainable way of production.

Project Description

During the past project period the partners BMW, Linde Material Handling and the chair fml of the Technical University of Munich were working on the implementation of hydrogen powered industrial trucks in the context of the funded research project H2IntraDrive, which is part of the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP). For this purpose a total of 5 forklifts and 6 tugger trains with fuel cell engine were developed by Linde Material Handling, which are tested in this flagship project at the BMW CFRP- body shop of the BMWi-series (BMW i3 and i8). The industrial trucks, especially the chassis, had to be adjusted during the development of the integration of the fuel cell powered system from Linde Material Handling.

Use of fuel cell powered tugger trains and forklifts in the BMW plant in Leipzig

In the infrastructure at BWM a battery charging room with its charging stations is no longer needed. Instead a hydrogen infrastructure for the supply of the industrial trucks was built. Therefor the first indoor refueling station for hydrogen powered industrial trucks in Germany was built and approved by the Federal Pollution Control Act (BImSchG), which allows the industrial trucks to be directly refueled inside the plant.

Indoor hydrogen refueling station of the H2Intradrive project

The hydrogen infrastructure additionally consists of hydrogen storage packs and a hydrogen refueling station (both outdoor).

Hydrogen refueling station (white container) and hydrogen storage packs (red cylinders) of the H2IntraDrive project

Due to the development costs and the low quantities of the fuel cell systems, the investments of the industrial trucks and the hydrogen infrastructure was higher than for conventional industrial trucks. On the one hand BWM is confident that costs will be reduced through economies of scale with higher quantities and on the other hand that the operational advantages compensate the high investments for the most part.

Therefor the scientific investigations in the context of the project H2IntraDrive have the goal to gain knowledge in the field of reliability, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability of hydrogen powered industrial trucks used in serial operation. In the field of reliability malfunctions and resulting repairs and maintenance are documented and evaluated as well as downtimes are calculated. In combination with the temporal evaluation of essential operational processes the availability can be determined, which is again necessary for the economic evaluation.

For assessing the economic efficiency the operation costs have to be determined besides assessing the acquisition and disposal costs. In addition to the costs for a possible replacement of the batteries or the fuel cell system, the hydrogen consumption or the consumption of electricity and the emerging cost play an important role. This consumption is measured for various applications. After assessing the conditions at BMW a model is developed to evaluate the efficiency of varying application scenarios such as fleet size or prices for hydrogen. Minimum requirements for the use of hydrogen powered industrial trucks can be derived from subsequent sensitivity analysis.

In the field of environmental sustainability CO2 emissions of hydrogen and battery powered industrial trucks can be determined. The most influencing factors represent here the batteries, electricity, the fuel cell systems, hydrogen and the replaced spare parts of the maintenance.

The gained knowledge of the implementation of the project about hydrogen infrastructure, industrial trucks and the official authorization is gathered in a guideline.

After a successful testing and a positive evaluation of the hydrogen technology for industrial trucks it is imaginable that a nationwide rollout of those industrial trucks takes place. A future objective is to lay the foundations for a possible use of fuel cell powered industrial trucks covering Germany and Europe.

Project objectives

Besides laying the foundation of the use of hydrogen powered industrial trucks covering Germany and Europe the following objectives are pursued.
  • Successful market maturity of fuel cell powered industrial trucks
  • Development and use of hydrogen powered forklifts and tugger trains
  • Construction of the first hydrogen indoor fueling station for industrial trucks in Germany
  • Research into the performance and the load of the fuel cell industrial trucks and the hydrogen infrastructure
  • Research into the economic efficiency and sustainability
  • The use of green hydrogen


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