Zero Emissions Technologies

Zero Emission Technologies

Although significant emissions reductions have been achieved under the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (the San Pedro Bay Ports) continue to place great emphasis on green development, including a particular focus on zero emission technologies. Fostering the development of zero emission technologies is not only a key component of the ports plans to achieve their voluntary air quality goals, but it will also help to greatly reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions.

To that effect, the San Pedro Bay Ports prepared a Zero-Emissions Roadmap (see below) designed to guide their actions going forward. Soon after, both ports joined a regional Zero-Emission Truck Collaborative which seeks to unify the various parties interested in developing zero emission truck technologies (see below). Following up on these efforts, the Port of Los Angeles recently developed a Zero-Emissions White Paper which outlines a far more specific plan of action, and details the reasoning that led to its conclusions (see below).

Zero Emissions Roadmap

In 2011, the San Pedro Bay Ports prepared the Zero-Emissions Roadmap report that described the best way to support the development of port-related zero-emission technologies. This roadmap does not suggest a single solution to reduce emissions, but rather a suite of strategies that together have the potential to dramatically improve air quality throughout the region. The effort to achieve zero emissions goods movement will require technological innovation, multiple approaches, and regional partnerships. To view the Zero-Emissions Roadmap, including technical reports, click here.

Zero Emissions Truck Collaborative

The County-wide Zero Emission Truck Collaborative was formed in response to the Zero Emissions Roadmap. The members of the regional group are the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority as the lead, Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), Gateway Cities, and Caltrans. The purpose of the Collaborative is to ensure that zero emission technologies remain a priority for the region in meeting air quality goals, and that the zero emission technology policies of each agency align. The Collaborative also functions as a mechanism to unify the agencies in attempts to secure funding and spur policy changes at the state or national level.

Zero Emissions White Paper

The Zero Emission White Paper (White Paper) published in draft form in September of 2015 was developed to assist the Port in moving toward the adoption of zero emission technologies utilized for the purpose of moving cargo on and off Port terminals to a final destination. The White Paper contains information on various types of zero-emission and near-zero-emission technologies, the status of those technologies, proposed testing plans for future demonstrations, infrastructure planning, and a business case study.  The paper concluded with a series of specific recommendations, including a goal of assisting in the purchase and demonstration of up to 200 zero-emissions vehicles at Port terminals by the year 2020. To view the Zero Emissions White Paper, click here.

Examples of Zero Emissions Technology Projects at the Port

The projects below describe the various zero emission technologies that are currently being utilized, tested, and evaluated by the Port, or are currently in the process of being developed.

Heavy-Duty Vehicles (On Road)

Electric truck manufacturer TransPower is currently in the process of building and testing seven (7) zero emission Class 8 on-road trucks. Trucking companies have begun using the trucks to pick up containers at marine terminals and deliver them to warehouses in close proximity to the Port. These trucks will demonstrate their "ElecTruck" drive system, which integrates an on-board battery charger into the battery management system eliminating the need for an external stand-alone battery charger. The drive system is expected to provide 100 to 150 miles of range under normal operating conditions. Four of the seven trucks have been completed and deployed for demonstration, while three more are expected to begin testing in last quarter of 2015.


US Hybrid
Electric truck manufacturer U.S. Hybrid will develop and demonstrate two battery-electric trucks at the Port using the International Transtar 8600 Class 8 truck platform. The trucks will be equipped with a 300 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to provide an estimated 100 mile all-electric operating range under fully loaded conditions. These trucks are being developed with funding provided by the US Department of Energy (see below).


The world’s first plug-in battery-electric Class 8 truck was built in 2008 by Balqon Corporation as a demonstration project co-funded by the Port of Los Angeles and the SCAQMD. The original truck was powered by lead-acid batteries; however, with significant advances in battery technologies, the new version of the truck, Model XE-30, now operates on lithium-ion batteries which have better performance and higher energy density. The increased energy density and operational efficiencies are expected to result in an approximate 100-mile range when fully loaded.  In 2012, Balqon completed a preliminary demonstration which included several round-trips from a near dock railyard to Port terminals.

U.S. Department of Energy Grants (2012 and 2014)

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) awarded the SCAQMD a $4.1M grant in 2012. The grant was allocated to fund 13 zero emission truck projects from four vendors: Balqon (3), TransPower (4), US Hybrid (2), and Vision Industries (4). The funding requires a 50% contribution from vendors. Though details vary by subcontract, vendors generally have up to 1 year to produce the trucks and two years to test them. Vision Industries is no longer in business, and the remaining projects are on-going.

In 2014, the DOE awarded the SCAQMD another grant for $9.7M. The grant was allocated to fund 7 new zero emission truck projects from four vendors: TransPower (2), US Hybrid (2), BAE systems (2) and International Rectifier (1). Though project details vary by subcontract, the vendors generally have up to 1 year to produce the trucks and a 2 year testing period.


Cargo Handling

Yard Tractor (Transpower Plug-in)
In March 2013, the San Pedro Bay Ports were selected by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to receive grant funding for the development and demonstration of two electric yard tractors developed by Transpower. The yard tractors are currently being demonstrated at the Port of Los Angeles’ APM terminal and Pasha terminal. Previously these yard tractors have been successfully demonstrated at the Port of Los Angeles SA Recycling terminal and the Dole terminal at the Port of San Diego.

Yard Tractor (Balqon Plug-in)
In addition to the XE-30 On-Road Truck described above, Balqon Corporation also developed a plug-in battery-electric yard tractor. Just like the XE-30, the latest version of the yard tractor, Model XE-20, operates on lithium-ion batteries. Units have been tested at the California Cartage Intermodal Facility at the Port and have been able to achieve over 12 hours of operation on a single charge. The Port of Los Angeles is interested in testing six units at its marine terminals.

Ship-to-Shore Cranes
Ship-to-shore cranes are a type of large stationary dockside gantry crane found at container terminals for loading and unloading intermodal containers from container ships of various sizes. At the Port of Los Angeles, there are currently 75 ship-to-shore cranes servicing these container vessels. All of the ship-to-shore cranes at the port are powered by electricity provided from the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Electric Rubber Tire Gantry Cranes (ERTG)
A standard rubber tire gantry crane (RTG) runs on diesel fuel and is used for stacking intermodal containers within the stacking areas of a container terminal.  An electric RTG (ERTG) runs on electric power rather than diesel fuel, which completely eliminates localized air emissions and petroleum use. Several terminals at the Port have plans to turn over their fleet of rubber tire gantry cranes to ERTGs. Currently, ERTGs are being utilized at APMT and the West Basin Container Terminal.

Electric Rail Mounted Gantry Cranes:
An electric rail mounted gantry crane (ERMG) is also used for stacking intermodal containers. By mounting a gantry crane on rails, ERMGs sacrifice the mobility of their diesel counterparts, however, ERMGs have lower long-term operating costs and provide substantial environmental benefits since ERMGs run entirely on electricity. There are currently 10 ERMG cranes operating at the Port of Los Angeles’ American Presidents Line Terminal.

While ERTGs and ERMGs eliminate local air emissions, alternative tactics to reduce overall emissions have been explored via the Port’s Technology Advancement Program (TAP). Specifically, the TAP funded a project to demonstrate the Eco-Crane hybrid system. This power system replaces the typical all-diesel power plant found in most RTGs with a smaller conventional engine coupled to batteries.  Since RTGs spend significant amounts of time idling, a hybrid system is capable of significantly reducing air emissions. While the TAP project funded only one demonstration, there are currently 5 Eco-Cranes running at APMT, with a total of 14 units out at rail yards across the country.


Technology Advancement Program

In light of the above commitments and technologies, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have taken a proactive role in providing funds for various proposed emission-reduction projects through the Technology Advancement Program (TAP). The ports’ TAP functions to accelerate the verification or commercial availability of clean technologies through evaluation and demonstration with the goal of reducing emissions. Successful TAP projects may potentially be utilized as new control measures or alternatives to existing strategies already outlined in the CAAP, or as additional mitigation options for new projects.