Nikola announces “The end of diesel engines”, promises zero-emissions semi-truck with 1200 mile range by 2020

On December 1, Utah start-up Nikola Motor Company unveiled a fully operational truck they say spells the end of diesel-powered trucking – the Nikola One – a zero-emissions Class 8 semi-truck with sleeper cab that will carry a full load for a very long distance.

“Say goodbye to the days of dirty diesel…” 

                                                             Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Company

This is truly a zero emissions truck, with solar-generated hydrogen used in a fuel cell under the hood to charge batteries that power electric motors on each wheel.  The only emissions are water vapor. The truck will generate over 1000 horsepower (twice that of most production trucks), and have a range of 1200 miles and a huge amount of torque.  The specifications for the truck are nothing short of amazing – check them out here.

To provide the national infrastructure needed, Nikola plans to build a network of almost 400 solar-powered hydrogen generating and refueling stations, and to lease the trucks through the Ryder System, which will also provide maintenance and other services.  The cost – just $5-7,000 per month to lease a truck, with free fuel for the first million miles.

 

The truck promises many other advantages – including faster acceleration and a shorter stopping distance than diesel-powered rigs, and an in-cockpit computer system that will allow owner-operators to book freight while on the road. Nikola is also offering a ‘day cab’ version of the truck called the Nikola Two. View the video above for more on that topic and others.

As an added bonus, the refueling stations will sell hydrogen to any customers, which could lend impetus to the development and sale of Zero Emissions cars based on the same hydrogen-electric technology.

Will this really happen? Things look promising.  The company claims to have pre-orders for over $3 billion in trucks.  It plans to announce the location of their $1 billion manufacturing plant in 2017, and to begin construction of the refueling stations in January 2018.

For more information, check out the articles below, and the Nikola Motor Company website.

Hydrogen Could Help Heavy Trucks Clean Up Their Act, NBC News

Nikola Motor Company Unveiling — Details On “Zero Emissions” Semi Truck, CleanTechnica

A Tesla-Inspired Truck Might Actually Make Hydrogen Power Happen, Wired Magazine

Nikola Motors Introduces Hydrogen-Electric Semi Truck, Fortune Magazine

New electric Class 8 truck: 1,000 hp, 1,200-mile range, Overdrive

Port of Houston to build Zero Emissions Freight System

The Port of Houston is partnering with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to build a Zero Emissions freight system to move freight containers between its two container terminals, Barbour’s Cut and Bayport.  The Freight Shuttle System (FSS) will move freight containers five miles on a track built above Texas Highway 146 at a cost of about 10 cents per mile, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.

Adrian Shelley, executive director of MFN member Air Alliance Houston, and Stephanie Thomas of Public Citizen recently visited Texas A&M to watch the unveiling of the FSS and learn more about it from Dr. Stephen Roop, chief scientist at Freight Shuttle International and professor at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Adrian Shelly and Stephanie Thomas at Texas A&M University

Adrian Shelly and Stephanie Thomas at Texas A&M University

Learn more about their visit and this very promising technology in Stephanie Thomas’ blog post, Can the Freight Shuttle Reduce Cngestion and Clean Houston’s Air?

For more information, check out the video and news links below.

Houston port shuttle hailed as potential freight-handling breakthrough, Houston Chronicle

Texas A&M Transportation Institute unveils freight shuttle prototype, TheEagle.com

Forget Hyperloop: This Awful-Looking Thing Can Move Your Stuff, Wired Magazine

 

Environmental Health Coalition Says Proposed Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Expansion Detrimental to Community

Port’s plan will add 800 diesel truck trips through Barrio Logan – per day

SAN DIEGO, August 23, 2016 – The Port of San Diego plans to expand the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, including a tremendous increase in the use of diesel trucks and ships operating dangerously close to Barrio Logan. According to Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), an organization fighting toxic pollution in San Diego and Tijuana, the project’s draft environmental impact report outlines imminent impacts of the plan, while neglecting to address its damaging repercussions on the quality of life caused by increased air pollution and effects of climate change on the neighboring community.

“Within one-half mile of the proposed terminal expansion are parks, schools, neighborhoods and health care facilities that would be impacted by a nearly 600 percent increase in air pollution and the resulting health hazards,” says Diane Takvorian, executive director of EHC. “The Port needs to go back to the drawing board to reduce its plans for expansion and increase its use of zero-emission trucks and electric shore power for ships.” 

Barrio Logan and the port from city report

 The expansion plan for the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal proposes to increase cargo throughput to as much as 589 percent of the current volume and could increase greenhouse gas emissions by up to 540 percent of the current level. The draft environmental impact report estimates the expansion will add more than 800 diesel truck trips through Barrio Logan – every day — for a total of close to 982.

 In response to the plan, EHC submitted a letter outlining its concerns. The National City-based organization cited increased health risks for cancer and respiratory disease that would result from the added air pollution. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) also submitted a comment letter with similar concerns.

 “The long-term operation of diesel vehicles and equipment will have significant impacts in the region, especially given the proximity to residences,” says Heather Arias, freight transport branch chief at the California Air Resources Board. “Although the draft environmental impact report includes some features that begin to mitigate the air quality and health impacts from the proposed project, as recommended in our NOP comment letter, and given the health and air quality impacts, ARB suggests further incorporating more zero and near zero technologies that are commercially available now and by full build-out in 2035.”  

 Barrio Logan residents have lived alongside the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal for decades and remain a community with one of the highest rates of children’s asthma hospitalizations in San Diego County. According to the California Environmental Protection Agency and its cumulative impacts screening tool, CalEnviroScreen, Barrio Logan is among the worst five percent of neighborhoods suffering from cumulative pollution burden in California. 

“The Port has an opportunity and a responsibility to bring freight practices to our communities that won’t harm our families, won’t pollute our air and won’t destroy our future,” says Takvorian. “We urge the Port to revamp this plan into a model of sustainability and environmental leadership. By working together with the community, both economic growth and healthy communities are possible.” 

To learn more about the harmful impacts of toxic pollution in the San Diego/Tijuana region, please visit http://www.environmentalhealth.org.

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 ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COALITION: Founded in 1980, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) builds grassroots campaigns to confront the unjust consequences of toxic pollution, discriminatory land use and unsustainable energy policies. Visit us online at http://www.environmentalhealth.org.

EPA forms team to clean up port and rail yard air pollution

Gina McCarthy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, AdministratorAfter a year of campaigning by the Moving Forward Network (MFN), a coalition of residents and their local organizations living near the nation’s sea and inland ports and freight corridors, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has agreed to take the immediate steps requested by the group to address the environmental health and climate impacts from freight facilities.  

In a June 2, 2016 letter to Angelo Logan, MFN’s Director, McCarthy announced her intention to meet the MFN’s requests to:

  • Set up an agency-wide working group to address toxic freight pollution, which medical and public health researchers have found to cause extremely high rates of asthma in children and premature deaths from lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and neurological disorders in adults.

  • Develop a strategy to take the measures necessary over the next two years to ensure that commercially available lower- and zero-emissions truck technology be used at all of the nation’s sea and inland ports.

  • Develop an engagement plan to work with affected communities to develop a freight transportation strategy aimed at reaching zero-emissions as quickly as possible.

MFN’s year-long campaign included petitions to McCarthy signed by tens of thousands of port area residents and their supporters, thousands of letters, meetings with EPA Regional Administrators and other managers and staff, and expert testimony at meetings of EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

MFN’s affiliates are located in nearly all of the nation’s sea and inland ports, including Los Angeles/ Long Beach, the largest U.S. port complex; Newark/NY, second largest; Savannah, the second largest container port on the East Coast; Baltimore; Charleston SC; Houston; Oakland; Seattle; and the inland ports of San Bernardino, Kansas City, and Chicago.

MFN mekim-gaddymbers have responded positively to Administrator McCarthy’s decision. Kim Gaddy, Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action and MFN Regional Representative for NY/NJ, expressed what many members feel when she said, “Kudos to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for hearing and responding to the concerns and letters from residents in port communities and taking action to address the air pollution.”

Angelo LogaAngelo Logan preferred ASL picn, Moving Forward Network Director, expressed satisfaction with the outcome, and the need for the MFN and EPA to work hard to achieve success, “We are pleased that Administrator McCarthy has responded by making these commitments to mobilize EPA to work closely with us to end deadly diesel emissions poisoning port communities, particularly now that the technology to do so is available. We will pay close attention to the effectiveness of this process as we participate. EPA’s efforts over the next few months and during the next administration will be crucial to getting the job done.” 

The importance of solving this serious public health problem cannot be overstated.  Forty-five million people live in neighborhoods adjacent to ports and rail yards and along freight routes with heavy diesel truck traffic.  As a result, many suffer serious and life-shortening illnesses. These neighborhoods often have extraordinarily high rates of asthma in children, and similarly high rates of premature death from lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and neurological disorders in adults. The overwhelming majority of the affected areas are working class, poor communities of color, making deadly diesel pollution one of this nation’s most important environmental justice issues.

The two major problems created by diesel exhaust—illness and climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions—have available solutions. For example, technology now exists that can substantially reduce emissions from long-haul trucks and entirely eliminate them from trucks that serve local routes or are used in ports and railyards. A growing number of major international manufacturers have expanded production of zero-emission technologies for the freight industry, such as shore power for ships, battery-powered electric trucks, and electric cargo handling equipment.

The problem to overcome is the resistance of the logistics industry and their allies in political office and on the boards and staff of port authorities to shouldering the cost of the new technology. For years, these companies have been allowed to shift the nearly incalculable costs of the illnesses their diesel trucks have imposed—medical bills, lost work days, on top of pain and suffering—on the residents of port communities.

No voluntary programs have worked to reduce diesel exposure significantly. It is now time for the EPA,  the nation’s lead environmental regulatory agency, to prevail upon the port authorities in every port city to require the use of low- and eventually zero-emission vehicles as a condition for entry into their ports. The cost of ensuring that shipping and trucking companies purchase and use new, cleaner technology pales in comparison with the social costs imposed by the pollution and its health impacts.

Is the Hyperloop the ultimate Zero Emissions Freight Alternative?

Image source: Logistics Matters

As we’ve written in these pages many times, there are GREAT Zero Emissions freight trucking alternatives now in operations, including the amazing OrangeEV terminal truck, from this author’s hometown.  

While existing battery-powered electric freight trucks are relatively short range, OrangeEV and other companies are working to extend the distance they can travel between charges. In addition, billions of dollars are being spent on improving the energy density of batteries, and the energy miracle Bill Gates and others are trying to achieve could make long distance battery-powered electric freight trucks feasible surprisingly soon.

Another alternative, the Siemens e-highway system, with power supplied by overhead catenary lines, is currently being tested.  

But, what if freight could be moved in environmentally sensitive corridors with NO trucks, NO trains, and without clogging our highways?  

What if we could move freight from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to inland rail yards or across the US with zero emissions and zero traffic congestion?

Elon Musk and Hyperloop entrepreneurs think Hyperloop is the best solution for high-speed passenger transportation (as much as 760 MPH), and unknown to most of the public, freight transportation is also very high on their agenda.  In fact, the first operational hyperloop may carry freight rather than passengers.

hyperloop-cargo.jpg source - glassdoor.ca

Source: Glassdoor.ca

In the last few days, the business and technology press and others have been buzzing with news of a serious proposal to build a Freight Hyperloop between Russia and China.  Hyperloop One has backing from a Russian oligarch with deep pockets, and plans to have a freight Hyperloop from Russia to China in place surprisingly soon.  As reported by CNBC, its CEO said “I believe the first freight will be moving in Hyperloop by 2019.”  The Russian news outlet RT indicates that a Freight Hyperloop solution will be less expensive than building a new rail line.

Please check out a few recent news articles, and ask yourself this question – “Where might a Freight Hyperloop reduce air pollution, protect public health, and increase efficiency in the freight network?”  Your comments here would be appreciated!

Russia wants Hyperloop for super-fast transport in Far East, seeks Chinese funds, RT News

A new Silk Road? Hyperloop One eyes trans-Russia route, CNBC

Hyperloop One unveils Russia deal with goal of new Silk Road, USA Today

Russian Oligarch Is Backing Hyperloop One’s Effort to Reach Moscow, Fortune Magazine

Moscow group signs Hyperloop study deal for transport around Russian capital and new Silk Road to the Pacific, Electrek

Or this very interesting reference:

SHIP FREIGHT AT SUPERSONIC SPEEDS WITH THE HYPERLOOP, Logisticsmatter

Reduce traffic-related air pollution to save children’s lives & lower the $56 billion annual cost of asthma

Physician, epidemiologist, and Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health Dr. Sandro Galea just wrote a fascinating opinion piece for Newsweek Magazine on health care, and used asthma as an example of how non-health sectors of the economy affect health.

He pointed out that asthma costs the U.S. over $56 billion annually, and that reducing traffic-related particulate matter and other air pollution would be the most effective way to reduce asthma.

How could this be done?  A few key facts show that it is doable.

Most traffic-related particulate matter air pollution is emitted by the roughly 3 million heavy-duty diesel freight trucks on our roads, which burn over 37 billion gallons of diesel fuel every year.

Given the $700 billion annual revenue of the trucking industry – over $230,000 per truck – all old trucks could readily be retired and replaced with modern low-emissions vehicles – if we had the political will.

And if as a nation, we decided the health of our children is worth the investment, we could ditch dirty diesel in just a few years.

One option is to transform our heavy duty truck fleet to all-electric.  Electric terminal and short haul trucks are readily available today (check out the OrangeEV and BMW trucks), and their range is being improved every year.  Another option is to replace trucks (and dirty diesel locomotives) with Hyperloop freight networks along existing routes, as proposed by Elon Musk.

Making the leap to long-haul electric trucks and/or hyperloop freight systems would not be easy or inexpensive, but it wouldn’t be as difficult as putting a man on the moon, and would improve the health and lives of tens of millions of people – adults as well as children.

Dr. Galea makes an interesting point that I hope becomes true, ‘A transportation industry that is aware of its consequences for asthma will consider emission controls to be within its remit, and it will work to reduce the environmental consequences of its products.’

Check out Dr. Galea’s excellent editorial below:

Obamacare Is Not Enough – Americans are unhealthy and to fix it we need to address the root causes, Newsweek Magazine

 

Port of Los Angeles Announces Zero/Near Zero Emissions Demonstration Project

After losing a ten year battle to build a heavily polluting intermodal railyard next to a residential community, and getting caught secretly violating a court-ordered agreement to implement cleaner technologies, the Port of Los Angeles, now under new management, is taking dramatic action to show they can operate in a responsible, safe, and healthy manner.

In partnership with Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals L.P., and funding from the California Air Resources Board, the port recently announced the Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project, which use modern, cleaner technologies to dramatically reduce air pollution.

The project promises to clean the emissions from ships using an exhaust treatment system like the Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System, which will eliminate 90 percent of ship emissions. This is a very important move, particularly in light of recent research at the University of Southern California that indicates metals in the diesel exhaust of ships may be damaging the lungs of children.

Among on-shore technologies promised are electric terminal trucks, which are available commercially from vendors like Orange EV, and electric on-road drayage trucks, which are being demonstrated, but not yet sold on the open market.

For more information on this exciting project, see the Port of Los Angeles press release, Pasha, Port of Los Angeles and California Air Resources Board Partner on Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project.