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Mar 122010
 

From Green Right Now Reports

United Natural Foods, Inc. today announced plans to adopt hydrogen fuel cell technology to power the lift truck fleet at its Sarasota, Fla., distribution center. The company said it expects to employ 65 GenDrive fuel cell powered lift trucks by June. The company will add 29 new hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to its fleet, and retrofit 36 others.

As part of the Sarasota initiative to replace lead acid batteries and their associated charging equipment with hydrogen fuel cells, United Natural Foods said it has partnered with a number of companies to implement the roll-out, including Plug Power Inc., Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. and Abel Womack, Inc.

Hydrogen fuel cell produces energy by combining hydrogen and oxygen in an electrochemical reaction that yields electricity, heat and water. Hydrogen is non-toxic, non-poisonous, the lightest of all gases and the most abundant element in the universe. By converting its Sarasota lift truck fleet to hydrogen fuel cells, the company said it expects carbon emissions will be reduced by approximately 132 metric tons annually, an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of 35 automobiles.

“We consider environmental stewardship an essential component in every facet of our business. This hydrogen fuel cell project is further proof of UNFI’s leadership as an environmentally-conscious organization by advancing the use and development of alternative-fuel technologies,” Steve Spinner, UNFI’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The 352,000 square-foot Sarasota facility, which employs approximately 160 workers, serves as a regional distribution hub for customers in the Southeastern United States.