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Southern California Gas Co. to Demonstrate CNG Drayage Trucks at SoCal Ports; CNG-Hydrogen Blend to Follow

Southern California Gas Co (The Gas Company), California Cartage Co. (Cal Cartage) and Autocar will collaborate to develop and put into service the nation’s first compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks used to transport containers off-loaded from ships. Five trucks will be delivered in June 2008 and used to move containers between the San Pedro Bay ports, which include the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, to nearby freight-consolidation yards.

The new truck engines are certified to meet the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2010 on-road emission standards. Cal Cartage, the largest trucking company operating at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, will operate the CNG-powered trucks, which are manufactured by Autocar and are powered by Cummins Westport ISLG engines.

The new drayage trucks will produce NOx emissions 80% lower than the certification level for even the cleanest heavy-duty diesel engine, performing better than the emission requirements of both the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan and the California Air Resources Board. Following the initial 12- to 18-month demonstration project, The Gas Company hopes to then further reduce emissions from the CNG drayage trucks by switching the fuel from CNG to a CNG-hydrogen blend for further emissions reductions.

Autocar manufactures natural gas-powered trucks for the refuse and other industries. Many of its natural gas vehicles designed and built at its Hagerstown, Ind., factory are now operating throughout Southern California.

Kenworth Truck Company has begun production of Kenworth Class 8 T800 LNG (liquefied natural gas) trucks using Westport’s LNG HPDI fuel system technology adapted for the Cummins ISX 15-liter engine. The announcement co-incided with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announcement to approve a new $1.6 billion Clean Truck Superfund. The fund will assist replacing many of the 16,800 Class 8 trucks serving the ports with cleaner vehicles. (Earlier post.)



This is a good example of public/private partnerships to clean up the air we all breath. You could mandate that business do this and ad extra costs, or you could share the costs with everyone and get the job done. They did both and it seems to be working.

Alex Kovnat

I believe some facts and ideas I have, are in order concerning natural gas as a transportation fuel.

In some areas, notably California, a lot of electric power comes from natural gas. Coal is verbotten (pollution, greenhouse gases), nuclear power is too controversial (i.e., intellectuals don't like it), so that leaves natural gas as the only way to produce electric power in large quantities.

So if you're going to burn natural gas to make electricity to charge plug-in hybrid batteries, it may be better to use it directly as a transportation fuel.


From an efficiency standpoint, that could be the case. Converting large trucks to run on NG is not that expensive, passenger cars might be another story.

There is no real fueling structure for NG cars, fleet trucks and buses can be refueled in the yard. So you would have to put a compressor in the garage, which adds to the cost. Honda GX NG model does that, but is NG only, not dual fuel.


Alex, you're partly right,
But consider that an ICU has an efficiency of about 25%, while an efficient NG-electricity plant has an efficiency of 55%. Even with losses in electricity transport and losses in battery charging, electricity will probably still be more efficient than ICU.
Moreover, there are large powerplants (nuclear, coal) operating right now, and they produce lots of unused electricity at night, which is lost. So the first many millions of electric vehicles can be charged at night with energy that would be lost anyway.
This way, they are realy zero-emission vehicles, even if the electricity would come from coal.


One other thought, even though much of the power comes from NG power plants, up to 20% comes from renewables, so there is that diversity as well.

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