Large-engine upgrades to the newest-generation diesel technologies offer the fastest, most cost-effective path to cleaner air for ports and surrounding areas
October 24, 2019 (NEWARK, N.J.) – Upgrading and replacing the oldest, largest engines used in port operations to the newest-generation advanced diesel technologies is one of the most impactful ways to quickly and cost-effectively reduce emissions for near-port communities, according to Ezra Finkin, director of policy and external outreach for the Diesel Technology Forum, who today addressed attendees of the Air & Waste Management Association Freight & Environment: Ports of Entry Conference in Newark, New Jersey.
“Diesel is the technology of choice for moving freight at America’s ports,” said Finkin. “From drayage trucks, to cranes, material handling equipment, locomotives and tugboats, diesel provides an unmatched combination of efficient operation, performance and reliability demanded by the global economy. And now the newest generation of diesel power is near-zero in emissions, nearly eliminating particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxide (NOx), hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions.”
Diesel engines manufactured since 2015 for off-road applications – “Tier 4” engines – achieve over 90 percent reductions in emissions of NOx and PM. Putting the largest of these fourth-generation advanced diesels in service at the ports could eliminate as much as 30 tons of NOx and 2,000 pounds of fine particle emissions per year, compared to older models. Recent research by the Diesel Technology Forum and Environmental Defense Fund confirms that replacing the older engines that power locomotives and marine vessels are among the most cost-effective projects to reduce NOx emissions, delivering cleaner air to some of the nation’s most vulnerable communities in the shortest timeframe. These large-engine diesel upgrades generate many more emissions-reduction benefits than other projects, including school and transit bus replacements.
“While some are able to test or explore emerging alternative power options, diesel remains the only available technology at scale for many port-related applications” said Finkin. “In its 2018 Feasibility Assessment for Drayage Trucks report, the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) indicated that not a single alternative drayage truck platform is expected to reach commercial operation before 2021, at the earliest. Meanwhile, near-zero emissions diesel technologies stand ready for deployment.”
New, advanced bio-based diesel fuels offer yet another path to delivering clean air and climate progress with existing and new diesel engines used in port applications, including drayage trucks and material handling equipment. Near-zero emissions diesel engines are a proven asset for city leaders to deliver the level of public services, health and safety that the public demands. When paired with renewable diesel fuel, near-zero emissions diesel engines can deliver greenhouse gas reduction benefits in the most cost-effective way that reduces strain on port operators’ resources.
Progress has been seen across the United States, delivered by the newest generation diesel technologies.
- In the Port of New York, a recent upgrade of an old, unregulated locomotive to a new Tier 4 diesel model will deliver a 99 percent annual reduction in NOx and PM, and a 40 percent annual fuel savings.
- Diesel technology upgrades have enabled the Port of Los Angeles to achieve its 2023 CAAP emissions targets in 2019 – four whole years early, even as cargo has increased 26 percent.
- The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) just received an award from the American Association of Port Authorities, recognizing the clean air gains delivered by upgrading the trucks serving NWSA terminals to a 2007 or newer diesel engine.
- Upgrading the engine of one switcher locomotive in the Port of Tacoma reduced 34 tons of NOx emissions and almost 2,000 pounds of fine particles from the Port of Tacoma, and saved the rail operator 19,000 gallons of fuel.
- In the Puget Sound, upgrading three engines on one workboat saves more than 1,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year, as well as eliminates 3.2 tons of NOx and 400 pounds of fine particles, and saves the operator 45,000 gallons of fuel.
“The most effective applications for diesel engines are also the biggest and longest-lasting,” said Finkin. “According to research commissioned by the Diesel Technology Forum and the Environmental Defense Fund, many diesel-powered tugboats are in use far beyond their projected lifespan of 23 years, some as long as 50 years. The same may be true for locomotive engines and other large, heavy-use applications. While diesel engines are known and valued for this legendary durability, this means that more, older engines remain in service today. Encouraging the swift replacement of more of these older and longer-lived engines with the latest clean diesel models will generate significant emissions reductions.”
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) has been instrumental in providing funding for diesel engine upgrades in ports across the nation. Since 2008, $148 million has been awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 152 port-specific projects, and an additional $66 million was awarded to multi-sector projects that involved ports. Many of these projects were for drayage truck engine replacements, marine vessel repowers, wheel loader replacements, cargo handling equipment upgrades, locomotive engine replacements or terminal equipment upgrades.
Visit https://www.dieselforum.org/about-clean-diesel/port-and-marine and https://www.dieselforum.org/largeengineupgrades to learn how your community could gain substantial emissions performance improvements, greenhouse gas reductions and cost savings by using the latest-generation diesel technologies.
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About The Diesel Technology Forum
The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information, visit http://www.dieselforum.org.