May 28, 2020. The California Natural Gas Vehicle Partnership (CNGVP) recognized the actions of North America’s largest shipping ports—Los Angeles and Long Beach—to officially upgrade today’s commercially 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.

The feasibility assessment was first published by the Ports in March 2019 as a means to evaluate the feasibility of various zero-emissions (ZE) and NZE drayage truck fuel-technology platforms based on four key parameters: commercial availability, operational feasibility, infrastructure availability, and economic workability. NZE natural gas trucks are the first technology in the Ports’ assessment to achieve the TRL 9 rating. The assessment plays an integral role in the forward strategy of the Port’s groundbreaking Clean Truck Program.

The upgraded rating was achieved following the successful demonstration of 20 natural gas trucks (powered by the Cummins ISX12N NZE engine) in daily drayage operations with Total Transportation Services (TTSI), NFI, CR&R, Pacific 9 Transportation, 4Gen, Green Fleet Systems, and Orange Avenue Express. The demonstration trucks—designed for the 80,000 lbs gross combined weight rating typical in drayage—accumulated 567,603 miles running between the Ports and distribution centers throughout Southern California. Since completing the demonstration, the demonstration trucks have surpassed 1 million miles of operation.

The demonstration, led by Clean Energy and Cummins Westport, was conducted under a grant (GFO-16-604) provided by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD).

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle nearly 40 percent of the nation’s total containerized import traffic and 25 percent of its total exports, have made Southern California a major global goods movement hub with an expansive network of warehouse distribution centers. The heavy-duty diesel trucks that support the industry are the backbone of California’s thriving goods movement economy but are also one of the largest sources of emissions in Southern California. Heavy-duty diesel trucks cause smog and unhealthy air for 90 percent of Californians—about 35 million people. These impacts are particularly pronounced for residents living near major transportation corridors and in communities disproportionately impacted by truck traffic.

Southern California fleets benefit from the existing and extensive public access natural gas refueling network, including multiple high-volume truck capable stations in the San Pedro Bay Ports, Southeast Los Angeles, and Inland Empire region. This fueling infrastructure is poised for the addition of several thousand trucks and the private sector is ready to invest in the development of additional infrastructure as demand grows.

When NZE natural gas trucks are fueled with renewable natural gas (RNG), significant reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can also be achieved. In California, more than 75 percent of the natural gas vehicle fuel being used in California today is renewable, according to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program data (Q1-Q3 2019).

“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 (CI) values —the GHG emission reduction benefits of the expanded use of heavy-duty natural gas trucks in the state will only continue to increase,” added Todd Campbell, Vice President of Public Policy for Clean Energy and the Chair of the California Natural Gas Vehicle Partnership (CNGVP). “There’s a real win-win opportunity here and the CNGVP members look forward to helping California to meet its environmental and economic goals in the immediate term.”