Toyota Project Portal

By Judith Schultz, GHPB

In a shroud of secrecy worthy of a Star Wars film in production, a select team at Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMNA) built and refined technology targeted at transforming trucking technology while helping ports operate greener. Dubbed “Project Portal”, the team engineered an 80,000-pound Class truck and trailer combo using Toyota’s cutting-edge, clean-tech hydrogen fuel cell system. Toyota began live-testing the short-haul, zero-emission drayage truck on April 19, shuttling shipping containers between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and various freight depots up to 70 miles away.

According to the press release from TMNA, the truck is the focus of a study examining the potential of fuel cell technology in heavy duty applications that began this summer at the Port of Los Angeles. The study will specifically examine how the vehicle meets the performance required to support moving goods from vessel to warehouse. It is a fully-functioning truck, generating more than 670 horsepower and 1325 pound feet of torque from two Mirai (Toyota’s fuel cell sedan introduced in 2016 and available to U.S. consumers only in California) fuel cell stacks and a 12kWh battery while emitting nothing but water vapor.

Project Portal is part of Toyota’s effort to broaden the application of zero-emission fuel cell technology that could serve a range of industries. “Toyota believes that hydrogen fuel cell technology has tremendous potential to become the powertrain of the future,” said TMNA Executive Vice President Bob Carter. “From creating one of the world’s first mass market fuel cell vehicles, to introducing fuel cell buses in Japan, Toyota is a leader in expanding the use of versatile and scalable zero-emission technology. With Project Portal, we’re proud to help explore the societal benefits of a true zero emission heavy-duty truck platform.”

The project represents only one segment of Toyota’s ongoing commitment to fuel cell technology and the potential of a hydrogen society. The company continues to work to expand California’s hydrogen refueling infrastructure and announced a partnership with Shell in February to increase the number of hydrogen refueling stations in the state.

Shell has two hydrogen filling stations in Los Angeles. With the partnership from Toyota and the support of the State of California – which has the toughest clean-air rules in the nation and mandates for zero-emission vehicles – Shell could build seven more stations. While it is early days to bet on how hydrogen fuel cell technology may spread in the U.S., Shell is already part of a joint venture to develop a nationwide network in Germany of 400 hydrogen refueling stations for new hydrogen car models by 2023. Shell also became the first branded fuel retailer to sell hydrogen at one of its retail sites in the UK earlier this year.

If the Project Portal truck proves its worth in the Los Angeles test, extensive fueling structure may not be an overwhelming obstacle for a trial in other ports. Since drayage takes place in a relatively confined area, a single fueling station, like the one used at the Port of Los Angeles during the study, could be feasible for routine port operations.

Ventures such as Project Portal is just one example of various strategies seaports are investigating to lower or eliminate emissions. The Port of Houston Authority and Freight Shuttle International announced a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2016 regarding a joint project to evaluate freight shuttle deployment options in the Port Houston area. Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria stated that the Freight Shuttle has the potential to reduce freight congestion, transportation costs and air emissions.

Fueling the future with high performance, zero-emission trucks may be something of a long-haul as ports seek the right fit for sustainable growth and environmental protections. Obstacles are certain, but success is inevitable. May the torque be with us.

Editors Note: To learn more about the project visit…pdf

  • Date July 26, 2017
  • Tags July 2017