- Photo: Charles Csavossy via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Charles Csavossy via Wikimedia Commons

Near-zero-emission natural gas trucks have been deemed feasible for drayage operations by the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In a May 2020 addendum, the ports officially upgraded the currently available near-zero-emission (NZE) heavy-duty natural gas trucks to the highest technology readiness level, TRL 9, in their Feasibility Assessment for Drayage Trucks.

First published in March 2019, the assessment evaluated the viability of various zero-emission and NZE drayage truck fuel-technology platforms based on four parameters: commercial availability, operational feasibility, infrastructure availability, and economic workability. NZE natural gas trucks are the first technology in the assessment to achieve the TRL 9 rating, according to the California Natural Gas Vehicle Partnership.

Key to the move was a successful demonstration of 20 natural gas trucks powered by the Cummins ISX12N NZE engine in daily drayage operations with Total Transportation Services, NFI, CR&R, Pacific 9 Transportation, 4Gen, Green Fleet Systems, and Orange Avenue Express. The trucks accumulated 567,603 miles running between the ports and distribution centers throughout Southern California. Currently, the trucks have surpassed 1 million miles of operation.

“In our experience, NZE natural gas trucks are the closest direct replacement for diesel trucks in terms of their power and speed, the 600-mile range they provide between refueling, the ability to fast-fuel in about 10 or 15 minutes, and most importantly, their ability to compete on a cost-per-mile basis,” said Vic LaRosa, CEO and president of TTSI.

The NZE ISX12N natural gas engine is produced by Cummins, which has partnered with Freightliner, Kenworth, Mack, Peterbilt, and Volvo to make it commercially available.

Southern California fleets benefit from the existing and extensive public access natural gas refueling network, which is poised to fuel several thousand trucks.

“With a substantial expansion of in-state renewable natural gas projects now underway — with many of these projects having very low to negative carbon intensity values — the GHG emission reduction benefits of the expanded use of heavy-duty natural gas trucks in the state will only continue to increase,” said Todd Campbell, vice president of public policy for Clean Energy and the chair of the California Natural Gas Vehicle Partnership.

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