Hydrogen RTG takes a bow


The “world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered rubber-tyred gantry” could be a better zero-emissions option for terminal operators at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach than ERTGs.

In May PACECO Corp and Mitsui E&S announced the first H2-ZE RTG Transtainer Crane has begun commercial operations at Yusen Terminals Inc. (YTI) in the Port of Los Angeles.

The crane was manufactured in Japan with financial support from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

The H2-ZE RTG Transtainer Crane runs 100% on fuel-cell hydrogen technology and can achieve zero emissions without connecting to the electric grid. It is powered by a fuel-cell power pack (FCPP), which replaces a typical diesel genset, designed and built by MITSUI E&S in Oita, Japan. The crane will be tested at YTI over a four-year period.

PACECO declined to comment, but it is thought the RTG is the same unit Mitsui E&S erected in Oita earlier for testing, and that it is still owned by Mitsui E&S.

Initially, it will operate for 16 hours a day. According to PACECO, the RTG can match the efficiency of a conventional diesel-powered or hybrid RTG crane, with a hoist speed of 75ft/min and a trolley speed of 229ft/min.

Flexibility questions

If a hydrogen machine can meet the operational needs of YTI it offers another path for RTG operators to meet the goal of having all zero-emissions cargo handling equipment at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by 2030.

While ERTGs are common elsewhere in the world, they are noticeably absent at the San Pedro terminals. Of the more than 200 RTGs in operation across both ports only nine machines at one terminal (SSA Marine at Pier J in Long Beach) are ERTGs. Around 2012-2013 both APMT and West Basin Container Terminal in Los Angeles installed and tested different ERTG systems, but both were subsequently removed.

The main problem is that terminal operators operate top handlers in RTG blocks, and they do not want to lose this flexibility. Under the labour contract with the ILWU running top handlers is a much cheaper option than using RTGs because less labour is required.

Leading the way

Top handlers need to come to an RTG block from the side of the stack, a path that would be blocked on one side by a conductor bar, or require civil works for a cable system, for ERTGs. A hydrogen RTG does not have this limitation, while at the same time achieving zero emissions from the equipment.

PACECO noted that the technology allows for the conversion of an existing conventional diesel RTG with the FCPP system to achieve zero emissions.

“By bringing the H2-ZE RTG Transtainer Crane into operation, we are not just introducing new fuel technology for cranes but are leading the way for our industry to reduce emissions significantly,” said Troy Collard, general manager of sales at PACECO.

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