Emissions drive sees air quality benefits

Port of Oakland The Port of Oakland is already seeing the benefits of its project to convert 13 rubber tyred gantry cranes from diesel to hybrid. Image: Port of Oakland

A major California port operator projects big air quality gains from a three-month-old emissions reduction programme.

SSA’s Oakland International Container Terminal at the Port of Oakland said its US$6m conversion to hybrid yard cranes would cut greenhouse gas emissions 96%.

“This is way better than we thought it would be,” said Ken Larson, crane manager for the terminal’s parent company, Seattle-based SSA Terminals.  “So far, this is a very successful project.”

Battery power

The marine terminal, which handles 61% of Oakland’s cargo, is converting 13 rubber tyred gantry cranes, from diesel to battery-powered hybrid engines.  The 90ft tall cranes combine to lift about 1,000 containers a day.

Three yard cranes have been retrofitted and returned to service since March, the terminal reported. The remainder will be done by next June. This initiative has resulted in a dramatic drop in fuel use.

“The old engines burned 10 to 12 gallons of diesel an hour; the new ones…about a half-gallon per hour,” explained Mr Larson. “That’s the nuts and bolts of air emission savings right there and we’re astonished by the results.”

SSA said hybrid engines would cut about 1,200 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually from each crane. It said there would also be a 95% reduction in diesel particulate matter emissions.

SSA is replacing 1,000-horsepower diesel engines on its cranes with 142-horsepower diesel hybrids. The new power plants include small diesel engines used only to charge a crane’s batteries.  The Bay Area Air Quality Management District awarded SSA a US$5m grant to help finance the conversion.

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