California ports to test hydrogen-powered trucks

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Two new nonpolluting trucks powered by zero-emissions plug-in electric/hydrogen fuel cells soon will hit the road in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in a demonstration of the green technology, the ports announced Thursday, Dec. 16.

In an agreement with El Segundo-based Vision Motor Corp., one big-rig truck and one terminal tractor will be put to work for 18 months, with an anticipated start in early 2011. They will be tested under typical conditions for these short-haul vehicles. Each port has agreed to provide $212,500 from their Technology Advancement Program funds toward the cost of the $1 million project.

“This is another example of how the ports’ Clean Air Action Plan is continuing to look for new technology that can contribute further clean air improvements,” says Richard Steinke, Port of Long Beach executive director. “We’re looking forward to seeing how these vehicles perform.”

The on-road heavy-duty truck will be operated by Total Transportation Services Inc., a local trucking firm that serves both ports. The yard tractor will be operated on the property of California Cartage Express, another local trucking firm. Both vehicles are electric trucks, with batteries recharged by hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cell generates electricity from a reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. There is no combustion and no air pollution.

“Our partnership with Vision Industries reflects our commitment to bring promising zero-emissions transportation solutions to market,” says Geraldine Knatz, Port of Los Angeles executive director. “It’s these type of vehicles that will help us significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The port’s Technology Advancement Program encourages the commercialization of clean goods-movement vehicles and equipment. Each port has budgeted $1.5 million annually for the TAP since 2007. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency bestowed the 2010 Clean Air Technologies Award to the ports for the TAP program.