Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach embark on ambitious plan to cut air pollution

Foss Maritime’s new “eco-tug” will be a hybrid-electric version of its Dolphinclass harbor tugs like the two shown here. The hybrid is expected to go into operation in 2008. (Foss Maritime Corp.)

As the two largest container ports in the United States, Los Angeles and Long Beach handle over four out every 10 containers entering or leaving the country. Located in California’s South Coast Air Basin, these two ports are major contributors to some of the nation’s poorest air quality.

That air quality should improve, however, as a result of the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan. The goal is to cut diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions in half by 2011. The plan also calls for reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and other pollutants by significant amounts. These goals are particularly challenging because the container traffic is expected to double by 2020.

Working with the twin ports, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have developed a plan that proposes hundreds of millions of dollars in investments by the ports, the air district, state and port-related industry. These investments should bring cleaner air to southern California. By serving as a model and by demonstrating the effectiveness of clean-air technologies, the plan could also mean cleaner air in ports throughout the United States and perhaps the world.

While the main goal is clean air, the plan will also bring more efficient operations and reduced use of imported petroleum through the use of hybrid and electric technology, plus switching from diesel to alternative fuels.

For starters, all ships have to comply with the Vessel Speed Reduction Program, setting speed limits of 12 knots, initially out to a distance of 20 nautical miles from Point Fermin and eventually out to 40 nautical miles. Since oceangoing vessels contribute 90 percent of the SOx emissions, they have to use low-sulfur fuel in auxiliary and main engines at berth, out to 20 nautical miles from Point Fermin and out to 40 nautical miles in 2008. NOx and DPM control devices on auxiliary and main engines are mandated for new vessels and existing frequent callers.

Gantry yard cranes are being fitted with Vycon systems that recapture kinetic energy with a flywheel as a container is lowered to the ground. (Vycon)

All major terminals in Los Angeles serving container, selected liquid-bulk and cruise ships will have shore-side electricity within five years; all container terminals and one crude-oil terminal at Long Beach will have shore-side power within five to 10 years. The availability of shore-side power will allow vessels to shut down their diesel-powered auxiliary engines.

Los Angeles was the first port to provide shore-side power to containerships, an arrangement known as “cold ironing.” Princess Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line have signed agreements to use the shore-side power. Long Beach’s cold ironing requires more infrastructure investment that will be undertaken over the next five to 10 years.

According to Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, “The only way we are going to lower port-related air pollution is to continue to push the envelope in reaching new agreements with our partner tenants.”

Westport Innovations adapted a Cummins diesel to create a truck that runs on liquefied natural gas. The system employs high-pressure direct-injection technology. The ports’ truck modernization program would encourage, and even require, owners of older trucks to replace them with cleaner ones. (Clean Energy)

Wittmar Engineering and Construction’s cold-ironing system uses a turbocharged natural gas or LPG engine to generate the electricity. It generates 50 Hz or 60 Hz and 380 volts to 480 volts so that it can be used with any ship.

For vessels that cannot use shore power, there are alternatives like Advanced Cleanup Technologies’ emissions control system. With this system, flexible ducts and a hood can be fitted over a vessel’s exhaust stacks to capture and treat emissions while the ship is in port. The system can be located on the dock or on a barge.

Cargo-handling equipment
Within five years, all cargo-handling equipment will have to meet the toughest EPA standards for new equipment. That will mean retrofitting older equipment. Equipment that cannot meet the strict standards will be taken out of service. The equipment will use the cleanest available alternative-fueled engines, most likely natural gas, or cleanest available diesel engines.

Yusen Terminals is already using LNG-fuel yard tractors in its port facilities.

The Kalmar tractors, powered by the 250-hp Cummins Westport C Gas Plus dedicated natural gas engine, are projected to cut NOx emissions by 65 percent and particulate emissions by 80 percent.

The Port of Los Angeles and the air district are working on all-electric tractors to tow cargo containers from the port to local warehouses and rail yards.

The EPA and the two ports are developing hybrid yard tractors. The hybrids use either a hybrid electric system to combine the cleanest available diesel engines with an electric motor and batteries, or a hybrid-hydraulic system combining the cleanest diesel engine with hydraulic motors, pumps and accumulators to store energy. Kalmar will integrate the hybrid systems into the yard hostlers. The hybrids are expected to reduce particulate matter and NOx emissions by over 90 percent. In addition, the hybrid technology is expected to reduce or eliminate emissions during idling, which can represent more than 50 percent of the yard hostler duty cycle.

Shipyard cranes hoist containers weighing up to 50 tons, but with much wasted energy. Capturing and reusing this energy can mean reduced fuel usage and emissions from their diesel-powered generator sets. Vycon, a company that makes flywheel-based energy storage systems, has found that flywheels are an excellent way to capture, store and supply electrical energy during a crane’s short duration, high input/output duty cycle. The flywheel in the Vycon system stores kinetic energy as its AC motor slows the load on the downward trip. This energy then supplements the diesel genset when hoisting.

While Vycon’s technology can be applied to various types of cranes, the first application is for rubber tire gantry cranes, with one at the ITS and Evergreen terminals in Long Beach.

These cranes experience a 66-percent reduction in particulate matter, a 26-percent cut in NO and a 23-percent reduction in hydrocarbons, as well as up to a 25-percent gain in fuel economy.

Harbor craft
By the second year of the plan, all harbor craft based in San Pedro Bay ports will have to meet EPA Tier II requirements. By the fifth year, all previously repowered craft will be retrofitted with the most effective NOx and particulate-matter emissions reduction technologies. As cleaner Tier III diesel engines become available, the craft will be repowered.

Foss Maritime is building the world’s first true hybrid tugboat. It will significantly reduce particulate, NOx, SOx and carbon emissions. It will also consume less fuel and be quieter. The Foss hybrid is scheduled for delivery to operations in 2008. This “eco tug” will look like its sister Dolphin-class boats, but will be powered by two 670-horsepower battery packs coupled with two 334-horsepower diesel generators. Although the main engines will have lower horsepower than the existing Dolphin engines, overall the tug will have the same total power as its sister tugs. This tug could also take advantage of cleaner, less expensive shore power to charge the batteries.

Heavy-duty vehicles
One of the biggest challenges involves the emissions from the over 16,000 trucks that come to the ports. The plan calls for replacing the “dirty” pre-1992 trucks with ones with alternative fuel or cleaner diesel engines. Newer 1993-2003 models will be retrofitted with particulate- and NOx-reduction equipment. By the end of 2011, all trucks calling regularly at the ports will meet or exceed the EPA 2007 on-road particulate emissions standards and be the cleanest available at the time of replacement or retrofit with respect to NOx.

In the Port of Los Angeles, Yusen Terminals is using yard tractors fueled by liquefied natural gas. The Kalmar tractors are powered by 250-hp Cummins Westport C Gas Plus engines. (Bill Siuru)

The ports will benefit from the new emissions standards affecting the entire trucking industry and the availability of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel the exhaust emissions devices need to work properly.

Also helping is a new California law aimed at reducing the time trucks spend idling at ports. Shipping companies are fined if they require idling trucks to wait over 30 minutes to load or unload. Like many other communities, the California Air Resources Board has adopted policies limiting trucks from idling their diesel engines. Rules that go into effect in 2008 require automatic shutoff of diesel engines after five minutes of idling. Trucks with sleepers must use an alternative to idling for heating and cooling.

The challenge is not so much in the availability of the technology as it is the ability of owner/operators — many of whom have limited resources — to purchase it. Solutions include incentives to replace trucks, lease requirements necessitating use of clean trucks, green lane programs to expedite clean trucks, limiting dirty trucks and fees favoring clean trucks.

A truck modernization program, largely based on conversion to LNG, would target the trucks that are the most frequent visitors to the container terminals and that have the oldest, dirtiest engines. Owner-operators would turn in their old rigs for disposal in exchange for new trucks with alternative-fuel engines.

The ports will do the same for cargo-handling equipment used by its tenants. Clean Energy, the largest supplier of compressed natural gas and LNG for transportation purposes in the United States, plans to build three new natural gas fueling stations to service cargo container trucks in the two ports. Clean Energy will also offer financing to fleets and owner-operators to help purchase new natural-gas-powered trucks.

Railroad locomotives
By 2008, all switch locomotives in the ports will be replaced with Tier II engines equipped with 15-minute idling devices and use emulsified fuels as available. By 2011, all diesel-powered line-haul locomotives entering the ports will meet EPA Tier II rail standards and use ultra-low-sulfur fuel. Any rail yard developed or significantly redesigned will use the cleanest locomotive technology available.

RailPower Technologies has developed a hybrid electric locomotive. Several of them are in use at yards that serve the ports. (RailPower Technologies Corp.)

Union Pacific has ordered 60 low-emission switch locomotives for its Los Angeles Basin rail yards. These genset locomotives, supplied by National Railway Co., are powered by three 700-horsepower, low-emissions Cummins QSK19 turbocharged, six-cylinder diesel engines. Equipped with multiple engines, the locomotives can run them in various configurations to achieve lowest emissions and fuel consumption. Shutting down individual engines cuts idling emissions.

RailPower Technologies’ Green Goat hybrid electric yard switching locomotive features batteries charged by a diesel-powered generator set. The 1,750-hp Electro-Motive diesel is replaced by a clean 6-liter diesel engine. The Green Goat uses about 30 to 35 percent less fuel while meeting the strictest existing and anticipated emission standards.

The company is also developing a compressed integrated natural gas locomotive. Here the large diesel engine is replaced by a smaller gas turbine.

Someday containers could be transported not by truck or rail, but by magnetic levitation systems. For example, General Atomics has adapted its maglev technology to a container transfer system that could quietly transport individual containers at speeds of up to 90 mph to and from ports and distribution centers miles away. Using electric power, the system woauld be emissions-free.

By Professional Mariner Staff