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The Toro Company was selected by ATK, an aerospace and defense company, to help design and build two fuel cell powered utility vehicles with advanced hydrogen storage technology. The project is part of a contract awarded to ATK by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, which is collaborating with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to coordinate hydrogen storage development efforts for the U.S. Department of Energy.
As partner in the project, Toro provides extensive operational experience in the area of fuel cell technologies having recently completed a three-year demonstration with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The NYSERDA project used three prototype hydrogen-powered Toro Workman utility vehicles at various sites, including Niagara Falls State Park, Bethpage State Park and Rockefeller Plaza Government Center. These vehicles operated reliably in shuttling workers and grounds equipment, hauling turf materials, and assisting with refuse removal. The demonstration proved fuel cells technically viable and feedback from operators was consistently positive.
With proven experience in mobile fuel cell technology and off-road utility vehicle application, Toro caught the attention of ATK’s Center for Energy and Aerospace Innovation (CEAI), based in Ronkonkoma, New York. Toro’s Center for Advanced Turf Technology (CATT) will assist in designing two operational machines based on the Toro Workman chassis and similar to what the company successfully demonstrated in New York. The group will also provide technical expertise on end-use applications.
“We’re excited to partner on this project to leverage our field experience and further our efforts in the development of alternative fuel solutions,” said Dana Lonn, director of Toro’s CATT Group. “Our motivation in alternative energy is to reduce emissions, hydraulic leaks and noise levels for our customers. Therefore, we need to remain aggressive in identifying the best technologies to deliver these results at a competitive price.”
The fuel cell utility vehicles, powered by a solid hydrogen storage system, are scheduled for delivery later this fall to the DLA for a 12-month operational demonstration. During this time, the vehicles will retrieve and transport materials between warehouses with data being collected to better understand the performance, durability and sustainability of the hydrogen fuel cell system.
Shaped by concerns over energy usage and the environment, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires that the U.S. Department of Defense reduce oil consumption rates by 20 percent before the end of 2015. The energy law also establishes a hydrogen and fuel cell program with a goal of producing commercial fuel cell vehicles and developing hydrogen infrastructure by 2020.