NZE natural gas trucks get best rating to serve North America’s largest ports
North America’s largest shipping ports—Los Angeles and Long Beach— have officially upgraded today’s commercially available, near-zero-emission (NZE) heavy-duty natural gas trucks to the highest Technology Readiness Level—TRL 9— in their Feasibility Assessment for Drayage Trucks.
The feasibility assessment was first published by the ports in March 2019 as a means to evaluate the viability of various zero-emission (ZE) and NZE drayage truck fuel-technology platforms based on four key parameters: commercial availability, operational feasibility, infrastructure availability, and economic workability. NZE natural gas trucks are the first technology in the ports’ assessment to achieve the TRL 9 rating. The assessment plays an integral role in the forward strategy of the ports’ groundbreaking Clean Truck Program.
The upgraded rating was achieved following the successful demonstration of 20 natural gas trucks (powered by the Cummins ISX12N NZE engine) in daily drayage operations with Total Transportation Services (TTSI), NFI, CR&R, Pacific 9 Transportation, 4Gen, Green Fleet Systems, and Orange Avenue Express. The demonstration trucks—designed for the 80,000 lbs gross combined weight rating typical in drayage—accumulated 567,603 miles running between the ports and distribution centers throughout Southern California. Since completing the demonstration, the trucks have surpassed 1 million miles of operation.
The demonstration, led by Clean Energy and Cummins Westport, was conducted under a grant (GFO-16-604) provided by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD).
“In our experience, NZE natural gas trucks are the closest direct replacement for diesel trucks in terms of their power and speed, the 600-mile range they provide between refueling, the ability to fast-fuel in about 10 or 15 minutes, and most importantly, their ability to compete on a cost-per-mile basis,” said Vic LaRosa, CEO and President of TTSI. “Our fleet has been operating NZE natural gas trucks reliably and cost-effectively for several years and plans to continue our investment based on the proven results and ROI we’ve achieved.”
“Cummins Westport is excited for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to officially recognize the commercial readiness of NZE natural gas trucks,” said Gord Exel, President of Cummins Westport. “We have thousands of NZE natural gas engines now operating throughout the country in Class 8 trucking operations, and more than 100 operating in the Southern California Ports; there is no question that our ISX12N engines will continue to provide the power and performance needed to reliably haul freight every day.”
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have made Southern California a major global goods movement hub with an expansive network of warehouse distribution centers. The heavy-duty diesel trucks that support the industry are the backbone of the state’s thriving goods movement economy but are also one of the largest sources of emissions in Southern California. They cause smog and unhealthy air for 90% of Californians—about 35 million people. These impacts are particularly pronounced for residents living near major transportation corridors and in communities disproportionately impacted by truck traffic.
“Reducing diesel truck emissions from the 17,000 drayage trucks operating in our region each day will significantly reduce air pollution from the Ports,” said Wayne Nastri, Executive Officer at South Coast AQMD. “With a continued need for goods movement, it is critical to deploy more cost-effective, commercially ready near- or zero-emission solutions that can help us reach our clean air goals.”
Moreover, when NZE natural gas trucks are fueled with renewable natural gas, significant reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can also be achieved. In California, more than 75% of the natural gas vehicle fuel used today is renewable, according to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program data (Q1-Q3 2019).
“With a substantial expansion of in-state renewable natural gas projects now underway—with many of these projects having very low to negative carbon intensity (CI) values —the GHG emission reduction benefits of the expanded use of heavy-duty natural gas trucks in the state will only continue to increase,” added Todd Campbell, Vice President of Public Policy for Clean Energy and the Chair of the California Natural Gas Vehicle Partnership (CNGVP). “There’s a real win-win opportunity here and the CNGVP members look forward to helping California to meet its environmental and economic goals in the immediate term.”