Toyota delivered a zero-emissions 670-horsepower truck to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Wednesday that could ultimately reverse the region’s high cancer-causing pollution levels.
If the hydrogen-powered big rig performs well during a summer-long pilot test dubbed “Project Portal,” the new heavy-duty carrier could be the model to replace thousands of diesel trucks that pass to and from the twin ports daily.
“We’re honored to be Toyota’s test lab,” said Tony Gioiello, deputy executive director at the Port of Los Angeles. “Ultimately, our hope is in the coming years Toyota demonstrates the viability of this technology and helps us make the zero-emissions truck viable in the marketplace here at the nation’s largest port complex.”
RACING TO ZERO
Vehicles propelled by hydrogen don’t have the drawback of cumbersome batteries or molasses-slow charging sessions like all-electric cars.
The new truck’s electric motor is powered by hydrogen fuel cells that emit only water vapor and can travel up to 200 miles on one 20-minute charge.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced this week the company, which is based in Palo Alto and has a Hawthorne design studio, will debut a competitive, all-electric semi-trailer truck in September.
But Tesla officials declined to share details about the much-anticipated vehicle, or how it will overcome range limitations. For example, the smaller VIA Motors’ all-electric pickup only has a range of 40 miles per charge.
Toyota officials have been studying hydrogen-powered vehicle technology for 26 years and believe it is superior to all-electric models.
In 2014, the company launched its first hydrogen fuel-cell car, the Mirai. Torrance-based American Honda Motor Co. now has a competing hydrogen-powered car, the Clarity. But several manufacturers are pursuing the technology.
MORE PHOTOS: A closer look at the new hydrogen-powered trucks
“I think it can potentially change the entire commercial industry,” said Bob Carter, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Sales based in Torrance. “This is on our journey to creating what we’ve been calling a broader hydrogen society. We believe this is going to have a distinct advantage” over electric vehicles.
“The concept is the same. The difference is that the fuel cells develop the electricity on board, as needed. You don’t have to have heavy, large, expensive batteries that take days to successfully recharge (a truck).”
Carter could not say how much a hydrogen-powered big rig would cost, but did predict it would be competitive with a new gasoline-powered truck if and when it hits the market.
HYDROGEN FUELING NETWORK
The shiny new truck is easy to distinguish for two reasons. It’s completely silent when running, and carries the slogan on its trailer: “A zero-emissions world: powered by Toyota hydrogen fuel cell technology.”
The emergence of this new clean-air vehicle capable of long-haul goods movement comes as state environmental regulators are working to expand a network of hydrogen-fueling stations statewide.
Janea Scott, a member of the California Energy Commission, said the agency is working to aggressively expand the state’s network of charging stations.
“California has some of the most aggressive climate goals in the nation, and we have federal clean-air standards to meet as well,” Scott said. “We are working with the Air Resources Board and Toyota to ensure we have an infrastructure in place to support hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles as they enter the market.”
Shell Oil also is helping to develop hydrogen-fueling infrastructure throughout California in partnership with the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Hydrogen fuel-cell stacks can be fed water, natural gas or a variety of waste products.
“Hydrogen is the lightest element on Earth, it’s very abundant,” said Craig Scott, Toyota’s national manager of advanced technologies. “Landfill waste can easily be turned into hydrogen.”
The twin ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach are the largest stationary source of pollution in the region, according to air officials.
If the truck’s pilot test works well, the model could replace fleets of high-polluting diesel trucks that line up at the gates every day to ferry cargo containers filled with everything from furniture to power tools over to inland warehouses and then on to consumers and retailers.
An estimated 19,000 cargo containers move through the ports daily, carrying an estimated $450 billion worth of goods annually.
Black carbon, benzene, arsenic and formaldehyde can be readily found in the air around the ports, where cancer rates are higher than neighboring communities. Despite being the largest stationary source of pollution in the region, the twin ports have made strong inroads to cutting smog since enacting the Clean Air Action Plan in 2006.
Officials credit the effort with helping to reduce harmful diesel particulate matter by 85 percent — largely from diesel trucks — since it was first established.
At the heart of the plan was a clean-trucks program that forced thousands of truckers picking up cargo from the port daily to replace their oldest and dirtiest big rigs in their fleet with more efficient and less polluting models.
The ports estimate pollution from big rigs fell 90 percent after implementation, but the trucking industry has complained the high cost of replacing trucks has crippled some businesses.
“Our 2017 Clean Air Action Plan update proposes a gradual transition of the regional diesel-based fleet to near-zero emissions and ultimately zero-emission trucks,” Gioiello said. “To most people today, that is unimaginable. But that is where we’re headed.”Staff Writer Rachel Uranga contributed to this report.
Staff Writer Rachel Uranga contributed to this report.
Source : http://www.ocregister.com/2017/04/19/this-hydrogen-fueled-18-wheeler-at-la-long-beach-ports-emits-only-water-from-tailpipe-4/