CNET News Video
Forklift of the futureOorja Protonics has built a methanol fuel cell for powering those massive forklifts you see wandering around the stock room at Costco. CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos goes for a test ride.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:03 >> I'm riding one of the hottest green vehicles in Silicon Valley today, the methanol-powered forklift. Michael Kanellos for News.com here at Oorja Protonics. Start-up in Sunnyvale that makes the power system one of the fastest growing vehicle markets around. ^M00:00:19 [ Music ] ^M00:00:21 >> This Toyota forklift contains a methanol fuel cell created by Oorja. The fuel cell continually charges the battery and the battery powers the forklift. The fuel cell however, can also power the forklift on its own. Who cares? Warehouse owners. >> If you look at a day in the life of a forklift, you would start the morning, three, four, five hours until the shift, the forklift operator will be back to swap the batteries. >> Drivers have to bring in the rigs mid-day to huge charging stations to swap the batteries. That takes a lot of real estate and a lot of space to places like Wal-Mart, and Target and Costco. >> With this, you could go two-shift operation if that's what the... >> Really? >> Customers demand or you could go three-shift operation. >> A lot of companies have tried to bring fuel cells to market for years. But they've been mostly looking at cellphones and small electronics. Oorja's trick is that they're doing it for a big honking system like this. >> Here's the fuel tank, right. >> Okay. >> And you connect -- you just drive pass a refilling station. In less than two minutes this is filled up and off you go. >> Here's how it works. Methanol, which is wood alcohol is mixed with oxygen and then run through a catalytic membrane in this blue box. The reaction rearranges all the atoms and produces water, carbon dioxide and electrons. The electrons are then fed into the batteries, which is that yellow box. >> Today, I think there are about a million and a half electric forklifts in the US -- existing. >> Really? How come it's taken so long for fuel cells to hit the market? >> It's the scientist syndrome. Engineer has to develop what the customer wants. >> I'm Michael Kanellos for News.com -- yeeha! ^M00:01:55 [ Music ]