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Sysco to Get Stimulus Funding for Fuel Cells

The money is intended to support immediate deployment of fuel cell systems for emergency backup power and material handling applications (e.g., forklifts) that have emerged as key early markets in which fuel cells can compete with conventional power technologies. Additional systems will be used to accelerate the demonstration of stationary fuel cells for combined heat and power in the larger residential and commercial markets, according to the DOE.
 
For its part, Sysco will deploy 90 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for a fleet of pallet trucks at its new distribution center in Houston, due to open in August 2009. This installation will be the first ever green field installation in the world without battery infrastructure for a pallet truck fleet. Success at this distribution center will lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of Sysco’s other 169 distribution centers.

 “The investments we’re making today will help us build a robust fuel cell manufacturing industry in the United States,” said DOE secretary Steven Chu.  “Developing and deploying the next generation of fuel cells will not only create jobs--it will help our businesses become more energy efficient and productive.”

The increase in manufacturing volume is expected to bring costs down and encourage the growth of a domestic fuel cell supplier base. A variety of technologies will be developed and deployed, including polymer electrolyte, solid oxide and direct-methanol fuel cells.

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