Zero-emission trucks could enter demonstration mode in the next few years and eventually be part of a zero-emission corridor along a congested section of Interstate 710 leaving the Port of Los Angeles, according to a study by Calstart, an independent California-based organization working to commercialize clean transportation technology.
Calstart’s Technologies, Challenges & Opportunities I-710 Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Vehicle Systems study concludes there are no major technological barriers to the development of a zero-tailpipe emissions vehicle or vehicle system that can move freight through the 18-mile-long I-710 corridor, the principal transportation connection for moving goods via big-rig trucks between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the BNSF/Union Pacific railyards in the cities of Commerce and Vernon.
Small-scale demonstrations can begin immediately, the organization said. Commercialization of proven designs can be achieved by 2035 and could occur well before that time.
A dual mode or range extender hybrid electric vehicle with some EV-only capability would be the most feasible solution, particularly if it was combined with an infrastructure power source installed in an overhead catenary or in the road, CALSTART said.
While technologies exist to achieve a zero-emission corridor, significant challenges stand in the way.
The biggest obstacle will be assuring a viable market exists in volume and demand for zero-emission (ZE) drayage trucks, CALSTART said. Any effort to create a zero-emission freight route in the I-710 corridor must develop a set of market mechanisms that would encourage original equipment manufacturers and suppliers to invest the time and resources required, in expectation of future returns, the organization said.
The commercialization process for a complex product like a Class 8 truck would include significant engineering and development work, including demonstrations of early prototypes, building a small number of pre-production vehicles and developing a business case for moving to full production, CALSTART said.
A zero-emissions corridor is just one transportation alternative contained within the I-710 Major Corridor Study, which examined ways to improve safety, traffic congestion and air quality on a heavily congested corridor of I-710.
That study, which was conducted by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority, the Californian Department of Transportation, the Gateway Cities Council of Governments and Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, proposed a freeway with 10 general purpose lanes, plus a separate four-lane freight corridor. The study also proposed two alternatives that would go one step further and deem the truck-only lanes as a zero-tailpipe-emissions freight corridor.
CALSTART studied the alternatives in the I-170 Major Corridor Study to determine if a zero-emissions corridor was a viable option.
The I-710 corridor project is one of many efforts in California to improve air quality and transportation issues. The California Air Resources Board this month approved $27 million for its air quality improvement program, a statewide initiative to give incentives for buying advanced technology passenger cars and heavy-duty trucks.