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Toyota fuel-cell Class 8 prototype to start drayage routes at Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

Unveiled earlier this year (earlier post), Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) “Project Portal” fuel-cell-powered Class 8 truck proof-of-concept has completed more than 4,000 successful development miles, while progressively pulling drayage rated cargo weight, and emitting nothing but water vapor.

With testing and development miles completed, Project Portal will begin initial feasibility study routes, moving goods from select Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach terminals to surrounding rail yards and warehouses for distribution. Toyota estimates the truck’s daily trips will total around 200 miles (322 km).


These localized, frequent route patterns are designed to test the demanding drayage duty-cycle capabilities of the fuel cell system while capturing real world performance data. As the study progresses, longer haul routes will be introduced.

The initial feasibility study operations will be managed by the TMNA Project Portal team, in collaboration with Toyota’s Service Parts Accessories Operations group and its drayage provider, Southern Counties Express (SCE).

Project Portal is 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 producing zero emissions. Heavy duty vehicles make up a significant percentage of the annual emissions output at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Portal feasibility study may provide another path to further reduce emissions.

The Project Portal heavy-duty truck concept generates more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 lb-ft (1,797 N·m) of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12kWh battery—a relatively small battery to support Class 8 load operations. (Earlier post.) The concept’s gross combined weight capacity is 80,000 lbs., and its estimated driving range is more than 200 miles per fill, under normal drayage operation.



Another hand to Toyota for increased use of FCs can clean cargo transport.

At 322 Km the range of this test unit is enough for the assigned tasks. Range could and will be increased by adding more H2 tanks.

How long will it take to market long range FC Trucks? This is just a start. More manufacturers will board the train in the next 5 years or so?


Absolutely, another great mark for the brand.


I doubt that fuel cells will be needed for drayage operations. Orange EV already builds battery electric tractors for both terminal operations and shorter haul on-highway drayage. Battery technology is improving and I expect that Lithium Sulfur batteries will be available in the next 3 or 4 years. The Lithium Sulfur that Rice University recently announced had about 3 times the energy storage of Lithium Ion plus high power, long life and rapid charging. I am less sure about long haul trucking but Proterra now has BEV transit buses that will run over 350 real world miles on a single charge.


Please explain why you need the complexity and added expense of an on-board hydrogen powered fuel cell to generate electricity for an electric motor driven short haul truck, when a battery could be used instead and charged once a day.

Additionally, the hydrogen is still created by reformed fossil fuel...hydrogen is an expensive fuel and mostly because mining fossil fuel, transporting it to a reformer, changing fossil fuel to hydrogen and then transporting it is a presently a very inefficient grossly polluting process...that's a giant step backwards.

Installing solar panels and charging from the Sun is non-polluting and about as efficient as it gets...and, it's available right now; it's not just a foolish promise.


This is a way to log hours and get data, one step at a time.


Developing H industry efficiency is relevant even if it never takes off as a major percentage of bulk passenger or goods transport type in the same way I would suggest that Battery technology was completely relevant before today's hybrid and BEV's expansion in road transport.

How practical will H be for storing r.E. surpluses depends on many factors.

The saying 'those who can predict the future are called futurists. Those that can predict when are called billionaires."

I wouldn't like to try and list the potential spinoff areas of interest to technological society beyond road transport fuel which may prove to be a minor component of the industry in future.

Science can't be rushed and H development depends on more ancillary technologies than most esp to bring it closer to competing economically with BEV's however it's promise as competition and alternative if nothing else sets a bar for the battery developers to beat.

William Stockwell

I'm very interested in fuel cells but very skeptical of hydrogen as a fuel- If they find out how to store it at a reasonable pressure and at a higher energy density and in shapes other than a cylinder- plus learn how to make it from water at a higher efficiency and lower cost then I'd like it just fine.


Lad said:

'Please explain why you need the complexity and added expense of an on-board hydrogen powered fuel cell to generate electricity for an electric motor driven short haul truck, when a battery could be used instead and charged once a day.'

If you are confused about that, you really should study the subject.

The answers are that a fuel cell system in total weighs far less than any battery system we can do, so the payload can be greater, and the truck can be refuelled in ten minutes, ready for another driver to take over and double shift the vehicle.


Toyota was smart and practical here, they took a regular big rig tractor then put motors, batteries and fuel cells in it. Now all they need is to reform DME to hydrogen on the truck.


Here is a video of the build of the truck:

I am hoping that the engineers here will post some insights into the construction, as there is no commentary.

That certainly looks like two fuel stacks to me though, on the left and right of the truck.

Perhaps to enable efficient running at cruising speed as the stacks don't like variance?

One stack closing down whilst the other provides cruising power?

I am probably way off base! :-(


H2 is one of the most common element on Earth and in the Universe.

Our world is finding more lower cost ways to extract H2 from water every other month including ways to store it in a more compact liquified state.

FCs using H2 return plain water. Nothing is waisted. The cycle can be redone over and over again as the atmosphere is doing with rain.

Very low cost Solar/Wind and other energies can be used to produce clean low cost H2 for future FCEVs (of all sizes), computers and phones, future electrified planes, pilotless drones, locomotives, ships, small and large machines etc.

Automated factories can mass produce very low cost FCs of all sizes. Fully automated USA and EU factories could compete with China's?

The future is bright for REs, H2 and FCs?


Wow Harvey, and the deep semi-vacuum of space is the most abundant thing in the universe! We should use that to power cars!

Do you ever stop with that bullshit? The fact that hydrogen exist has nothing to do with it being available to power vehicles. That's as stupid as telling someone dying of thirst on the ocean "hey, if you just pulled all that salt out of the water...you'd have plenty to drink!".


DaveD may have to drop his hate for clean H2/FCEVs and REs in the near future, when it becomes very competitive with CPPs, NGPPs, NPPs, Fossil and Bio fuels, ICEVs and BEVs.

People on nuclear submarines drink ocean water (after treatment) on very long extend trips?

REs can and will soon do the same thing for Californians and other States?


If only my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle. It's called reality Harvey.

I have nothing against fuel cells for stationary applications where they make economic sense and there is a steady supply of hydrogen.

Your submarine statement shows how stupid you are. If that were economical on a large scale, then the middle east would be a paradise and they'd just pump in sea water and desalinate it to make the whole place into a giant lush meadow.



What is wasted is energy. The efficiency of using electric power for electrolysis of water, compressing hydrogen and then converting back to electricity with a fuel cell is about 36% at best and 25% is probably a better number. You get back about 85 to 90% with a battery. If and when we ever have surplus electric power that can not be handled with the grid, pumped hydro would be much more efficient.

There may be a place for fuel cells such as quiet power generation for the military or maybe drones but local drayage is not one of them. Orange EV already makes tractors for both terminal operations and local drayage.
I have asked some of our delivery drivers how far they drive in a day. UPS is about 65 miles but the residential drivers drive closer to 100 miles per day. Another driver with a class 8 semi said between 100 and 150 miles. Anyway, almost all local trucking can be done with battery electric vehicles. Look at what Cummins is doing with their electric drive semi tractors.


Much better ways are being found to filter impurities and salt from sea water.

New carbon nanotube filters (CNF) are very promissing and very efficient.

FEMA could use a few hundred/thousand of them in Porto Rico? Coupled with FC operated pumps it could supply clean water to many.


Also, better ways are coming to produce H2 efficiently and cheaply from/with solar light.

Storing H2 more efficiently (in a compact container) is still a challenge but it is doable.

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