|Balqon E30 rolls off the line. Click to enlarge.
An initiative of the Port of Los Angeles’s Clean Air Action Plan, the development and demonstration of the Balqon Nautilus E30 electric truck was co-funded by the Port and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) at a total cost of $527,000. Designed specifically for short-haul or drayage operations, this heavy-duty truck can pull a 60,000-pound cargo container at a top speed of 40 mph, and has a range between 30 to 60 miles per battery charge.
The Nautilus E30 uses a 336V traction battery pack comprising flooded, deep cycle lead acid batteries with a square tubular positive plate design for maximum exposure to the electrolyte. Features of the pack include an automatic watering system controlled with a proprietary on-board timer circuit; forced air cooling during driving and discharging cycles; and automatic low voltage shutdown during operations. A battery management system monitors each battery cell.
Total capacity of the pack at full charge is 160 kWh. The E30 consumes 1.2 kWh per hour of idle operation; 2.4 kWh per mile driven unloaded; and 4.4 kWh per mile driven with full load.
An 80 kW battery charger can charge up to four electric trucks simultaneously and can also provide up to 60% of the charge in one hour to meet peak demands during daily operations. Maximum output at each charge port is 40 kW. A charge from 80% depth of discharge takes 3.5 hours with 480 VAC, 3 phase input voltage. The charger uses a priority smart charge algorithm based on vehicle state of charge.
The E30 uses a 100 hp (75 kW) continuous rated 230 volt AC vector duty electric motor connected to a flux vector variable frequency controller.
Following the successful completion of cargo terminal tests during 2008 of the demonstration Balqon truck, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved the purchase of 20 production, electric trucks from the manufacturer as part of the “green terminal” program. These trucks will be deployed as a zero emissions alternative to fossil fuel-powered yard tractors, or “hostlers.”
Currently, fleets of thousands of hostlers—which are mostly diesel vehicles and a small number of Liquefied Natural Gas test units—move thousands of containers a day between the Port’s docks and terminal backland. These could eventually be replaced by electric vehicles.
The green terminal program will also include the production of five on-road electric trucks. Balqon will work with the Port and Department of Transportation to obtain the appropriate certification for on-road use. In total, the Port is investing more than $5.6 million to demonstrate the viability of electric drayage trucks.
As a partial consideration of the Port providing the first sizeable production order with Balqon, the company will provide a royalty payment to the Port for each vehicle it sells or leases worldwide.
On a kilowatt hour of energy cost-basis, this electric truck costs roughly 20 cents a mile to operate. On a per-mile cost-basis, a common diesel truck could cost anywhere from four to nine times as much, depending on fluctuating fuel costs and actual duty-cycle activity (100% duty cycle equals zero percent truck idling).
On an annual basis, more than two million truck drayage trips take place between the Port of Los Angeles terminals and rail and warehouse facilities within five to ten miles of San Pedro Bay.
An overall calculation of net emissions reductions still needs to be performed to take into account the emissions created in the generation of electric power used to charge the truck’s batteries. However, based on the average emissions generated by the existing fleet of drayage trucks that serve the San Pedro Bay ports, Port of Los Angeles staff estimated the average pollution discharge generated by the estimated 1.2 million truck trips that occurred in 2006 between the ports and a local near-dock railyard (the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility or ICTF).
If those 1.2 million truck trips were to be made with zero emission electric trucks, an estimated 35,605.6 tons of tailpipe emissions would be eliminated, including: 21.8 tons per year of diesel particulate matter (PM), 427.7 tons per year of localized NOx (NOx) emissions, 168.5 tons per year of carbon monoxide (CO), and 34,987.6 tons per year of carbon dioxide (CO2).