How bad is the diesel pollution from the trucks servicing containers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach? Very bad indeed. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Southern California ports are the single biggest source of dirty air in the region.
Thousands of trucks, as well as the diesel ships themselves, are spewing carcinogenic particles and harmful gasses into the air, and the state has decided to do something about it through the Sustainable Freight Advisory Board. Encouraging zero-emission transportation technology, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a port news conference, “We can have healthy communities and we can have a healthy port. We can have economic growth and clean air.”
On April 19, Toyota jumped into the fray with Project Portal, which replaces diesel “dray” trucks with special 670-horsepower Kenworth T-660s sporting not one but two fuel cells from the company’s Mirai. “We’re also building a hydrogen station at the port that can handle as many as 10 to 20 trucks on a daily basis,” said Craig Scott, national manager in Toyota’s Advanced Technologies Group.
According to Toyota engineer Tak Yokoo, “The port has been pushing for zero-emission electric and fuel-cell trucks, and our Project Portal vehicle uses the exact same fuel cell as the Mirai.” Scott cites this powerplant—with a 12-kilowatt-hour battery added, it’s able to give the 80,000-pound truck 200-mile range—as an example of fuel-cell modularity. “You can use two fuel cells for medium-duty trucks, three for heavy-duty trucks,” he said. “From our research, we’ve modeled the cost and it could be feasible at many ports around the world. And nine of the 10 biggest ports are outside the U.S.”
Yokoo said the early project is only for the Los Angeles port, but discussions are also underway at Long Beach.