For several months now, Air Liquide has supplied and operated a hydrogen charging station for forklift trucks at the Carrefour Supply Chain logistics base in Vendin-le-Vieil (France). This logistics platform, which is a central element of the group's supply chain, receives, stores, and distributes goods to stores throughout the region. 137 hydrogen-powered forklifts are in service on this site. The warehouse is now home to the largest number of hydrogen forklifts in all of Europe.
Air Liquide has installed a station containing three charging points located at different strategic areas within the platform. This allows each of the 137 forklifts provided by STILL to be charged in only three minutes, with a charge lasting an average of eight hours. This installation was co-financed by the FCH-JU (Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) public-private partnership as part of the HyLift Europe* project.
Hydrogen energy provides a sustainable alternative to classic forklifts and meets major logistical challenges by combining greater flexibility with improved productivity. It extends forklifts' operating range while reducing charging time and improving working conditions for forklift operators.
The use of hydrogen for logistics platforms equipped with fuel-cell forklifts, whose only waste emission is water, is already widespread in North America with nearly 20,000 forklifts in service in the United States and Canada. Europe has approximately 300 forklifts in service, of which around 270 are powered by Air Liquide, leaving significant growth potential.
With its expertise and skills in the field of gases, Air Liquide is developing a range of innovative solutions for clean mobility (hydrogen, biomethane, and cryogenic nitrogen for cold production in refrigerated trucks) to support clients like Carrefour – whose biomethane-powered trucks in five warehouses are already supplied by Air Liquide – seeking to significantly lighten the environmental impact of their vehicles and respond effectively to society's major challenges in terms of climate change and improving air quality. With this goal in mind, the upgrading of biogas and the use of hydrogen energy are fields that Air Liquide is actively developing.