Fuel Technology Competing to Clean the Air

The San Pedro Bay Ports comprise the largest port complex in the United States, the third largest port complex, and continue to be the number one single source of air pollution in the South Coast Basin. This is mainly due to the number of diesel powered trucks and cargo equipment that move in and out of the complex daily.
What if we could change that? Can you imagine all those trucks moving all that cargo without emissions?
“There’s 42,000 cargo containers that move through the port of Los Angles every day. They’re moved around by 16,000 largely diesel trucks,” according to Toyota Motor North America Executive V.P. Bob Carter.
Last November Toyota announced they would be exploring the potential of a Heavy Duty truck with zero emissions. Though companies like TransPower have been making electric trucks for years, this was the first time a company with the breadth and reach of Toyota decided to enter the market. The announcement was further boosted by Tesla’s announcement last week that it too would produce a zero-emission heavy duty truck.
The Port of Los Angeles “Project Portal” was unveiled as the next step in Toyota’s effort to broaden the application of zero-emission fuel cell technology that can serve a range of industries. It is a fully functioning heavy duty truck with the power and torque capacity to conduct port drayage operations while emitting nothing but water vapor. Heavy duty vehicles make up a significant percentage of the annual emissions output at the Port of Los Angeles, and the Portal feasibility study may provide another path to further reduce emissions. The feasibility study will examine potential usage of fuel cell technology in heavy-duty applications and will begin this summer.
Portal is powered by the same fuel cell stacks used in the Mirai. Has ability of 670 horse power and 1325 pounds feet of torque, gross combined weight capacity of 80,000 pounds and more than an estimated driven range of 200 miles per hydrogen fill which would work for short haul drayage.
Also significant is that the third iteration of the San Pedro Bay CAAP demands more true zero emissions. This demonstration of hydrogen for now is a short haul feasibility study. The societal benefits that this can have on the quality of life of people and the environment considering the heavy amount of truck traffic that exist could be monumental.
Hydrogen fuel cells are not a new technology. Using compressed hydrogen as their fuel and releasing only water vapor as an emission have been in development for decades. It is only until recently that they have attained performance and range numbers good enough to replace an average driver’s gasoline-powered car.
I’ve heard the term “game changer” recently as examples of what fuels are driving the trucking industry to consider alternatives. What will truly be a game changer is what will be a commercially viable reality. We desperately need this otherwise Port communities will continue to suffer the disproportionate burden.
We need this technology and others like it to be a success. When they do this will change everything.

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