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EPA Takes Innovative Approach to Clear the Air at the Nation's Ports

Release Date: 09/05/2007
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664,

(Elizabeth, N.J.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved the nation’s supply chain closer to a cleaner, fuel-efficient and cost-effective future today as EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson announced a project to develop and test a new EPA-patented technology on large equipment used to move goods and products from ships to trucks. These heavy duty diesel machines, called yard hostlers, contribute to air pollution generated in ports throughout the world. EPA’s hydraulic hybrid technology, which is currently being tested in several UPS vehicles, is being readied for use in yard hostlers, the most common work vehicle used at loading docks. The hybrid vehicles will feature a unique hydraulic hybrid power train that can generate, recover, store and reuse braking power with very little air pollution.

“EPA and our partners are working together to ensure that America’s ports become harbors of clean air,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Together, we are moving breakthroughs in hybrid technology from the labs to the docks – improving air quality while saving fuel. This technology is good for our environment, good for our economy, and good for our nation’s energy security.”

Port Authority Port Commerce Director Richard M. Larrabee said, "We've made tremendous strides toward becoming an environmentally friendly port, but we need to do more if we are to continue to be recognized as a national leader in this area. The new program we are announcing today -- coupled with existing programs to preserve environmentally sensitive land, build new rail facilities that will reduce our dependence on trucks, and retrofit ferries with cleaner-burning engines -- will allow us to maintain a sustainable port well into the future."

    The hybrid vehicles will use a diesel-hydraulic system that will combine the cleanest available diesel engine technology with components that use hydraulic fluid compression to store energy. The hostlers will feature hydraulic hybrid power trains, which are unique hydraulic hybrid propulsion systems that provide power to the drive axles. Hydraulic tanks are used to store energy, in contrast to the less efficient batteries used in electric hybrid vehicles. Like other hybrid systems, energy saved when applying the brakes is reused to help accelerate the vehicle.
      The hydraulic hybrid technology is expected to improve the fuel efficiency of the yard tractor by 50 to 60 percent, reduce or eliminate emissions during idling, and decrease brake wear. The same hydraulic hybrid technology that has shown dramatic energy efficiency improvements in delivery trucks can be applied to other equipment used to move goods around. The UPS hydraulic hybrid truck shows potential savings of 1,000 gallons of fuel per year where most delivery trucks are driven. This demonstration project will prove the effectiveness of hybrid hydraulic technologies on yard hostlers and it has the potential for widespread domestic and international adoption because the technology is easily installed, requires no major changes to a vehicle’s operating system or fueling requirements.
        Reducing diesel emissions is a goal of EPA's National Clean Diesel Campaign. Replacing the current non-road certified diesel yard tractors with cleaner more efficient, on-road engines that will meet future certification standards will provide immediate and significant emission reductions. The goal is to develop a hybrid drive system that will include a diesel engine that meets the 2007 and 2010 on-road diesel standards. An engine meeting the 2010 standard will also achieve 93% reductions in NOx and 93% reductions in particulate matter compared to an ordinary diesel yard tractor. The hydraulic hybrid technology is expected to further reduce emissions by eliminating emissions from the internal combustion engine during idling.
          One of EPA’s many responsibilities is to promote environmentally-friendly trade practices and products related to the support of the U.S. Trade Representative in negotiating new international trade agreements. Recognizing the potential this project has to transform a key but relatively unknown element of the global supply chain, EPA has already provided $205,000 to fund this initiative and will also provide more financial and technical support next year.
            Key partners in the project include the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, A.P.M. Terminals, Kalmar Industries, Parker Hannifin Corporation and the Port of Rotterdam, with which EPA will share project information.
              To learn more about EPA's efforts to improve air quality, visit: and .