Environmental Report: Hybrid Technology

What does the hybrid-powered family car have in common with the heavy-duty yard truck or "hostler?" Actually, a lot-once the yard hostler prototypes have been completed at APM Terminal in Elizabeth and at New York Container Terminal in Howland Hook.


As part of the hybrid hostler test project, New York Container Terminal has purchased two standard yard hostlers to be retrofitted with customized technology.

Hybrid technology has gained popularity in the new car market because it reduces emissions and improves fuel economy through features such as hybrid assist, regenerative braking and engine auto-stop. Marine terminals, such as APM Terminal and New York Container Terminal, are ideal partners for this initiative. "Their use of yard hostlers, which make frequent starts, stops and have a high percentage of idling time, are excellent operating conditions for this technology because the act of applying the vehicle's brakes increases the storage of regenerative energy needed to propel the vehicle without utilizing the diesel engine," explained Joe Monaco, Manager, Environmental Projects, Port of NY/NJ.

Two teams within the Port of New York/ New Jersey have been formed to research the opportunities and challenges associated with applying hybrid technology to cargo handling equipment, and the potential for its commercialization.

The Howland Hook team, which includes The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York Power Authority, the New York City Department of Transportation, Kalmar Industries, CalStart and New York Container Terminal, will select a winning vendor's proposal to configure and integrate a hybrid drive system into the Kalmar/Ottawa 4x2 terminal tractor. They are working jointly with a corresponding team based in the Port of Long Beach. "This is an exciting time to be looking into technology that will improve our air quality and reduce the company's' fuel costs," noted Charlie Priscu NYCT Power Equipment Manager.

The team at APM Terminal will focus on retrofitting the Kalmar/Ottowa 4x2 terminal tractor hydraulic hybrid technology. This particular technology, which has been spearheaded by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Ann Arbor technology laboratories, includes two power sources that propel a vehicle-a small fuelefficient diesel combustion engine and hydraulic components. In addition to APM Terminal and the Port Authority of NY/NJ, team members include the USEPA, Kalmar, Parker Hannifin (a manufacturer of truck hydraulic components, systems and hybrid drives), and FEV Inc. (an engineering contractor that designs and develops powertrain and vehicle technologies).

Hydraulic hybrid technology replaces a conventional drive train with a hydraulic one, which eliminates the need for a mechanical transmission and driveline. Laboratory testing conducted by USEPA has demonstrated that a hydraulic hybrid technology applied to a United Parcel Service (UPS) delivery vehicle in Diamond Bar, California, has achieved a 60 to 70 percent improvement in fuel economy and a 40 percent reduction in emissions, compared to a conventional UPS vehicle. "We estimate similar results can be achieved for yard hostlers," noted Monaco.

"The project with APMT will take the technology to the next level. The terminal tractor will be the largest GVW (gross vehicle weight) yet tested," explained Wayne Pighin, Senior Director, Asset Management at APM Terminals. If these demonstration projects are successful and the hybrid drive system technologies can be commercialized, the net result could be improved air quality and fuel economy not only at the New York/ New Jersey-based marine terminals, but also at other transportation facilities such as distribution centers and rail yards, where yard hostlers are frequently used.

The Port Authority is also interested in working with its international port partners to raise awareness about environmental impacts, and to achieve emissions reductions. In support of the concept of the International Sustainable Ports And Carriers Partnership, the PANYNJ and the Port of Rotterdam Authority plan to use the hydraulic hybrid yard hostler demonstration as a project of mutual interest to achieve reductions of air emissions.