Trucks, trains and ships are the three essential transportation modes for the modern industrial distribution facility. Each mode relies on the internal combustion engine for motive power, which in turn generates impacts on the air we breathe. The broader management of transportation-based air impacts is primarily accomplished through state and federal regulation; however facility owners and developers are increasingly called upon to mitigate impacts at the project level. The following materials provide an overview of various non-regulatory technologies and approaches to manage air impacts. We highlight the Clean Air Action Plan which provides a roadmap for managing clean air initiatives and a case study on the recent implementation of GenSet Locomotives for the Honda Port-of-Entry at the Port of Richmond, California.

Case Study: Port of Richmond GenSet Locomotives


Ship Emissions

In today’s industrial facilities, ships that call on ports emit large amounts of exhaust by burning bunker fuel. Not all ships release the same quantity of emissions into the atmosphere, however, and it is important to distinguish between different types of ships. For example, auto carrier vessels produce relatively low emissions when compared to other types of ships in the industry. Containerships are by far the most polluting ocean going vessels, emitting annually over fifteen times the amount of CO2 and over twelve times the amount of SO2 of an auto carrier.

TransDevelopment’s signature projects involve marine terminals that offload automobiles and prepare them for transport on rail and highways. The vast majority of ships TransDevelopment encounters are auto carriers – roll-on and roll-off vessels. The main differentiating characteristic between these ships and other vessels such as containerships and tankers is the amount of time spent at berth and anchorage. For most ships, this is an area of concern because while at berth and anchorage, auxiliary engines are running the whole time, releasing pollutants close to cities and threatening public health. However, there are solutions to greatly reduce and even eliminate any pollutants and/or particulate matter from entering the air. For auto carriers, undertaking these solutions will not likely prove to be cost-effective. For other types of ships, they merit some thought.

Cold Ironing: Cold ironing allows for hoteling ships to shut off their auxiliary engines and receive shore power. This can eliminate emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and diesel particulate matter while at berth. There are fairly significant costs associated with this method – the primary cost being the need to retrofit berths and ships, which is expensive. Also the cost of electricity to power the auxiliary engine would be far greater than the cost of burning fuel to power the engine. Many ports have plans to retrofit berths and ships over the next decade, meaning cold ironing is not an immediate solution and will not be widespread for many years. Cold ironing is primarily intended for containerships, reefers ships, and passenger ships because of the large amount of power they require to run while docked; again, auto carriers do not make ideal candidates for cold-ironing due to the nature of their operations.

Emissions Control Systems: One example of an emissions control system is the Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System (AMECS). The system removes criteria pollutants, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Oxides (SOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) from exhaust gases emitted from auxiliary engines and boilers while ships are hoteling. This system can significantly improve air quality for surrounding communities.

Fuel Slide Valve: Fuel slide valves allow for a superior combustion process that results in a 30% reduction of nitrogen oxides and a 25% reduction in particulate matter this technology also reduces fuel consumption. This is a simple retrofit to the engine that can significantly reduce emissions.

Use of Low-Sulfur Fuel: Burning fuel with a sulfur content of .2% or less (most residual fuel’s sulfur content is about 2.7%) in the auxiliary engine while at berth can greatly reduce emissions of particulate matter and sulfur oxides. Many ports already endorse this practice.

Table 1

Table 1

(Data from the Port of Long Beach 2009)


Locomotive Emissions

In the past quarter century, technological advances have allowed freight trains to increase fuel efficiency by about 80%. Modern locomotives can now transport one ton of freight hundreds of miles on a single gallon of fuel. Often overlooked is the role of switching locomotives and the activities of the rail yards themselves. In the rail yards, trains are loaded and offloaded and the switching locomotives are often left idling for long periods of time. This results in fuel inefficiency and significant air pollution and particulate matter emissions that contribute to human respiratory degradation.

GenSet (Generator Set) switcher locomotives have been developed as far more efficient alternatives to traditional models. GenSet units are operated by smart chips that only engage the locomotive’s power when necessary. GenSet locomotives receive power from three independent 700 HP Cummins diesel engines as fast as a truck engine, avoiding the need to leave engines idling for long periods of time.

Utilizing GenSet locomotives allows for a fuel savings of about 20% compared to existing diesel locomotive technology. In comparison to a traditional locomotive in the same application, GenSet units have been shown to reduce NOx by 58%, HC by 94%, CO by 37% and PM by 80%. The locomotives are able to achieve these reductions by monitoring engine idling and switching to a sleep mode after a period of inactivity. When there is no longer a need for power, the first diesel engine will shut down after one minute. After five minutes, the second engine will shut down and the third will enter sleep mode after fifteen minutes of inactivity.


Truck Emissions

Trucks at terminals and other industrial facilities constitute a significant portion of hydrocarbon combustion and subsequently, air emissions. Using cleaner burning biodiesel fuel in diesel vehicles and lower sulfur on-road diesel in marine terminal equipment can be environmentally beneficial.

Truck idling is inevitable at most facilities. The implementation of a maximum duration for idling can serve to minimize emissions and fuel consumption. Also, some equipment and trucks use their main engines to power hydraulic lifts and other non-drivetrain equipment. Installing and retrofitting smaller, more efficient auxiliary power units on older trucks to power hydraulic lifts can decrease the amount of time the engine is running.



Emissions Treatment Technologies

Emissions Treatment Technologies

Emissions treatment systems can be installed on-site to both capture and treat emissions generated on and around the facility.

Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System (AMECS)

An example of such a system is the Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System (AMECS), which contains a scrubber component and a catalytic reactor. AMECS will soon be available in two forms: “On-Wharf” (Sock on a Stack) and a barge-based solution that can be used at anchorage. The system removes criteria pollutants, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Oxides (Sox) and Particulate Matter (PM) from exhaust gases emitted from auxiliary engines and boilers while ships are hoteling.

AMECS consists of a bonnet that is placed over the ship's stack at berth in order to collect emissions from the exhaust stack. The captured emissions are conveyed through a duct to a dock or barge mounted Emission Treatment System (ETS). Treatment takes place on the ETS, where 95-99% of the NOx, Sox and PM pollutants emitted from the stack are removed. System capacities may be scaled accordingly to accommodate various ship sizes. An AMECS with a capacity of over 50,000 SCFM is now being designed.

Locomotive Emission Control System (ALECS)

Controlling and treating emissions from a locomotive when undergoing maintenance or idling is crucial to improving a facilities environmental impact. The Advanced Locomotive Emission Control System (ALECS) comprises a set of stationary emissions control equipment connected to an articulated bonnet. The bonnet is designed to capture locomotive exhaust, delivering it to the ground-based emission control system via ducting. The hood remains attached while the locomotive is moving slowly along the track to the extent of the ducting.

The emission control equipment comprises a sodium hydroxide wash to remove sulfur dioxide (SO2), a triple cloud chamber scrubber for PM removal, and a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) reactor to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx). The ALECS is designed to treat exhaust flows between 2,000 and 12,000 standard cubic feet per minute (scfm). The former is approximately the exhaust flow from a locomotive at idle, while the latter is approximately the exhaust flow from a line-haul locomotive at throttle notch 8 (full power).

Clean Air Action Planning

Clean Air Action Planning

Transportation facilities of all types generate air emissions to the surrounding vicinity. These emissions are generated by transit movements to and from the facility, as well as the in-terminal operations. An emerging framework for managing these impacts is called a Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP). This format has become increasingly popular for port authorities, where multiple transportation modes are at issue and marine vessels generate significant emissions while traveling to and from the port as well as loading or unloading at berth.

Air emissions associated with transportation and distribution terminals create impacts which are local, regional, and global in scope. Diesel articulate matter (PM) emissions, especially fine particular matter such as PM10, can impact local receptors, and particularly at-risk groups such as infants and the elderly. These emissions are critical from a local health risk standpoint. Other emissions, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx) create regional air impacts by contributing to conditions such as smog and acid rain. Additionally, CO2 emissions are contributors to climate change, an environmental issue that is global in scope.

The CAAP has several goals. Typically, the first goal is to inventory and measure existing emissions sources. This is critical to determining which aspects of the operations cause impacts on a local, regional, and global scale. Second, the CAAP identifies potential emissions reduction strategies and examines the financial and operational requirements to implement these strategies. Finally, the CAAP evaluates potential impact reductions in combination with regulatory requirements, financial resources and technical feasibility.

As part of the Honda Port of Entry Project, the Port of Richmond, California, implemented a CAAP to reduce emissions associated with operating a port automobile terminal. The CAAP included provisions relating to shipping, trucking, railroad, and vehicle handling with the goal of eliminating 50% of PM emissions by 2020, and reduction of NOx below the baseline project estimate by at least 5%. The CAAP also provided a framework for investigating emerging emissions reduction technologies, renewable energy sources, sharing knowledge with peer ports and other transportation operations, and providing public information regarding the Port's scorecard in monitoring air impacts and managing on-going mitigation programs.