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EPA and Ports Collaborate on Hybrid Yard Tractors, Electric and Hydraulic

A Kalmar yard tractor.

The US EPA’s West Coast Collaborative, the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach are collaborating to develop and test hybrid technology yard tractors for use on container terminals.

Three of the hybrid yard hostlers will be operated and tested for six months at Long Beach Container Terminal. The hybrid vehicles would use either a hybrid-electric system to combine the cleanest available diesel engine technology with an electric motor, or a hybrid-hydraulic system that would combine the cleanest available diesel engine technology with components that use hydraulic fluid compression to store energy.

Cargo-handling equipment manufacturer Kalmar Industries will integrate the hybrid systems into the yard hostlers.

The hybrid-drive system, coupled with the cleanest available diesel engine, is expected to deliver a 93% reduction in smog-forming nitrogen oxides and diesel particulate matter compared to typical yard hostlers. In addition, the hybrid technology is expected to reduce or eliminate emissions during idling, which can represent more than 50% of the yard hostler duty cycle. The estimated cuts in emissions from idling reductions during the six-month test are about 19 tons of NOx and 200 pounds of particulate matter (PM).

If this promising technology proves viable, we will see air quality improvements beyond anything currently required by state or federal regulations. This technology could significantly curtail air pollution while helping to reduce fuel consumption.

—Geraldine Knatz, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director

The two-year project will cost $1.2 million. Both ports will contribute $375,000 each, the EPA will contribute $300,000 through its West Coast Collaborative, and the Long Beach Container Terminal will contribute $150,000.

CALSTART, a non-profit company that focuses on advancing cleaner technologies, is assisting in evaluation of the feasibility of the hybrid hostlers, looking at air quality impacts and fuel savings.

Yard equipment is one component of the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan, an action plan developed by both ports to significantly reduce health risks and air emissions from port operations in the next five years. This project falls under the Plan, and could significantly improve the yard tractor green technology.

The yard tractors will be tested at the Long Beach Container Terminal facility, but could ultimately be in operation at both ports in the future.

Long Beach Container Terminal is also conducting tests on yard hostlers powered by liquefied natural gas, a project which previously received grant funding from the U.S. EPA. CALSTART also is evaluating the feasibility of the LNG hostlers.


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