Smyrna, Tennessee – Nissan North America is now using methanol fuel cells to power its material handling equipment “tugs” at its assembly plant in Tennessee; the company said it is the first vehicle manufacturer to commercially deploy such a system.

The OorjaPac fuel cells, provided by Oorja Protonics, provide a more energy-efficient and cost-effective battery charging process for the 60 tugs that are used to transport thousands of parts throughout the facility.

“Nissan is constantly looking at the impact our business activities have on the environment, and at the same time, how we can become more efficient,” said Mark Sorgi, manager of material handling. “The fuel cells, that are fuelled by methanol, are helping us in both areas by reducing our CO2 emissions and better utilizing our resources.”

The cells eliminate more than 70 electric battery chargers that consumed almost 540,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, and required almost 35 hours a day spent changing batteries. This will reduce Nissan’s electric bill and eliminate more than 300 tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Methanol is an alternative liquid transportation fuel derived from various sources, including wood, grass, landfills, natural gas and coal. Refuelling each tug takes less than a minute, compared with 15 to 20 minutes for a battery technician to change low or dead batteries in the previous system.


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