Ground support equipment (GSE) is used in fleets around North America – airport tuggers, belt loaders and auxiliary power units are all GSE.


Value of Fuel Cells in Tugger Application

Economic Payback Based on Fuel Savings

  • Fuel cells are at least twice as efficient as diesel engines.
  • No idling is required. Fuel cells automatically shut off when not needed.

ZEV:Zero Emission Vehicles

  • Fuel cells eliminate noxious diesel fumes and noise. Fuel cells only produce heat and water as by-products.
  • Using hydrogen fuel cells, GSE operators are able to comply with tightening emissions standards that require capital increases and operational interruption to diesel fleets.
  • Solution for Tier 4 Final emissions standards and non-attainment areas – positive, immediate impact to designated EPA non-attainment areas (ozone, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, lead).

Fuel Cells are a Better Alternative than Lead Acid Batteries

  • Low-cost alternative to investing tens of millions of dollars to electrify an airport with electrical infrastructure and battery chargers.
  • Eliminates safety considerations with handling lead acid solutions.
  • Provides consistent and full power when needed to allow the tuggers to operate at peak speeds at all times, independent of how much energy is left in the tank. GenDrive fuel cell units never require changing.

More Hydrogen Usage Means More Savings

The more hydrogen used, the cheaper it becomes. As fleet size and energy usage increases, the value proposition for fuel cells improves. To add value to airport operations, Plug Power is also evaluating other airport assets, including:

  • Belt Loaders:conveyer belt loads baggage from ground level to aircraft storage areas
  • Container Loaders:lifting platform loads containers from ground level to aircraft
  • Pushback Tractors:pushes airplane away from the gate
  • Ground Power Units:supplies power/air conditioning to the aircraft while at gate
  • Airstarts:provides required energy for the initial rotation to start gas turbine engines

Plug Power engineers are experts in repackaging our fuel cell systems with enough power and weight to provide a drop-in solution for the GSE truck’s existing battery compartment. This application differs from material handling:

  • GenDrive provides 5,000 lbs drawbar and 4,000 lbs of weight in the existing battery box – capable of pulling up to 40,000 lbs. of weight
  • Large power output of 20 kW
  • Rugged application requires unit to be stored, run and fueled exclusively outdoors
  • Fuel cell unit and fueling dispensing infrastructure must be able to handle exposure to the elements including temperature, humidity and precipitation

Plug Power is currently developing this technology through a $2.5 million award from the Department of Energy to modify two electric ground support tractors for FedEx Express in Memphis, TN.