Exide Technologies Signs Agreement With Ballard Power Systems for Forklift Truck Power Solution

October 11, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Exide Technologies announced that it has signed an agreement with Ballard Power Systems to develop an on-board hybrid hydrogen fuel cell and lead-acid battery energy system for the forklift truck (or materials handling) market. Exide plans to meet all its hydrogen fuel cell needs in the forklift truck market over the next five years exclusively with Ballard fuel cells.

Ballard is described as a leader in the development, manufacture and sale of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells. Ballard’s work in the materials handling market has, to this point, been based on using the company’s Mark9 SSL™ fuel cell stack as an alternative to lead-acid batteries. This program will utilize Ballard’s Mark1020 ACS™ hydrogen fuel cell stack and Exide’s ELEMENT™ valve regulated lead acid batteries. The program illustrates the flexibility of fuel cells and batteries, while opening a new channel to the materials handling market. The hybrid fuel-cell battery system also is anticipated to provide incremental revenue opportunities for both companies.

"Our alliance with Ballard demonstrates our commitment to innovation in high-technology energy storage solutions, while addressing the unique concerns of our customers," said Mark Jesko, Director of Marketing – Industrial Energy Americas for Exide Technologies. "Using hydrogen fuel cells to provide on-board recharging capability also allows Exide to enter a growth segment of the market."

Ballard’s Mark1020 ACS fuel cell is said to feature fast, dynamic response, robust and reliable operation, durable packaging and a simplified, air-cooled design. While Ballard’s customers have used the Mark1020 ACS technology primarily for stationary telecommunications backup power, this product is also suitable for motive power applications. The design simplicity of the Mark1020 ACS enables integration of the stack into less complex, lower-cost systems, supporting the move towards commercialization of fuel cell products in the materials handling market, where cost is a key consideration.

"We are excited to work with a global player in developing an on-board hybrid energy system," said Michael Rosenberg, Ballard’s Director – Materials Handling. "And, Exide’s commitment to this effort certainly reflects the growing interest in commercial fuel cell-powered applications."

Initial prototypes of the hybrid hydrogen fuel cell battery system will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Defense.