Emissions free tractor strengthens efficiency

11 Aug 2017
HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder

A battery-powered tractor unit which runs on renewable electricity is being used by HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder as part of its zero-carbon project

A zero-carbon container project is increasing efficiency and reducing maintenance at a European terminal.

The HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder has confirmed it is approaching its project goal and, for the first time, using an emissions-free vehicle between block storage and the rail terminal.

Boris Wulff, a terminal development employee, said: “Projects must pay off for us, otherwise they aren’t sustainable. If we use an economically attractive electric vehicle between block storage and the rail terminal in future, we will be able to handle ship-to-rail container transportation in Altenwerder completely carbon-free.”

The vehicle is the prototype of a battery-powered tractor unit which runs on renewable electricity and was developed as part of a project led by Konecranes, with funding from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment and support from HHLA.

Featuring a charger and lithium-ion battery, the electric tractor unit has a capacity of approximately 200 kilowatt hours. This is the equivalent to the capacity offered by the batteries of ten small e-vehicles, said HHLA.

The prototype is being used to pull the containers mounted on rolling chassis between block storage, the empties yard and the rail terminal.

Test operations are due to continue until late November and 30 employees and service personnel have received training for this purpose.

A 24-hours-a-day trial operation will be carried out under different temperature and weather conditions to test the effects these have on the battery and drive system that will be used by the tractor unit at the terminal for continuous short distances.

Project organisers are also reviewing whether the energy with which the battery is recharged during the drivers’ breaks is enough for the battery to last an entire shift.

HHLA stated that a further energy-related acid test for the prototype is focussed on the fact that constantly changing chassis are coupled and uncoupled at short intervals.

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