TSI Terminal Systems Inc
Terminal Systems Inc. (TSI) is the biggest container terminal operator in Canada with two terminals in the greater Vancouver area and an annual payroll exceeding $100 million. Its total cargo handling capacity exceeds 1.5 million 20-foot equivalent units per year.
TSI’s Vanterm terminal is located in downtown Vancouver’s inner harbour with two container berths and seven gantry cranes. There are 109 pieces of equipment with diesel engines at this site. TSI’s Deltaport is located on a large dedicated multi-terminal area about 20 kilometres south from downtown Vancouver. At Deltaport there are 136 diesel engines, which include rubber tired gantry cranes which move up and down the rows of container stacks in the yard. Fully electric dockside gantry cranes service two container berths. TSI has a relatively new fleet, with the exception of 10 inland container cranes that are pre-1990s.
TSI has had a corporate objective of reducing its emissions from its operations. Last year the company used about 8 million litres of diesel fuel, of which 1.5 million litres were biodiesel.
TSI’s Biodiesel Project
In 2004 TSI began a test program to assess the emission reduction impact of using this renewable based fuel. As well, TSI had a number of concerns at the beginning of the test program due to the mission critical 24/7 nature of its operations. TSI was concerned about any sludge that had previously settled in the older fuel tanks being released due to the solvent properties of biodiesel. These properties would then result in more frequent fuel filter replacement and the possible deterioration of hoses and other fuel related rubber components in older equipment.
TSI used six different pieces of equipment to confirm that biodiesel could be successfully used in all its equipment and that emissions reduction would be achieved. Emissions were first tested using diesel to establish the emissions baseline so that this could be compared to the emissions reductions impact of biodiesel. The emissions tests measured Particulate Matter, total Hydrocarbons, CO, CO2 and NOx. This was followed by emissions testing at different biodiesel blend levels.
TSI prepared for the use of biodiesel by first draining the fuel tanks in the test equipment, refuelling with a B5 blend and then conducting emission tests. This blend level was then used for the next two weeks while TSI determined if there were any operability issues at this blend level.
As there were none TSI then proceeded to use a B10 blend with similar success. By the end of spring 2006, B20 was being used successfully in all its equipment.
The test results confirmed for TSI that biodiesel blends would result in emission reductions. The overall findings were consistent with testing that has been done by other agencies such as the US EPA but TSI noted that there were differences between engine types as a function of manufacturer, horsepower and year of manufacture. In conjunction with the use of scrubbers on its equipment used to reduce Particulate Matter, TSI determined that its overall emissions were reduced by about 30%.
TSI encountered some issues with plugged filters in its two-years of using biodiesel. The source of the problem was traced to rubber seals in the top of the fuel tank that were not compatible with biodiesel. The rubber material broke down, entered the fuel and was captured by the fuel filters. The rubber seals have all been replaced with biodiesel compatible material to eliminate this issue.
Both terminals are supplied by tankers which pre-load the bulk diesel and biodiesel in a two stage splash-blending process with the blend level being B5 in the Winter and B20 in the summer. This splashed blended fuel is then delivered and bulk stored at each terminal. TSI uses an on-site fuel supply tanker that provides wheel-to-wheel fuelling for each piece of equipment.
TSI is focused on quality control throughout its operations and has taken a similar approach with biodiesel. It requires that with each load of biodiesel delivered a separate Certificate of Analysis conducted by an independent lab is provided to TSI. This certificate confirms that the biodiesel meets the ASTM 6751 fuel quality standard.
Given the success of its biodiesel experience TSI is considering using a B30 blend in the summer to further reduce the emissions from its operations. Although Vancouver has a relatively mild climate TSI remains cautious about winter time and only uses B5 blends in the colder months.
TSI uses different diesel suppliers but uses soy-based biodiesel supplied by Canadian Bioenergy Corporation at both terminals.
Comments from TSI
Darcy Valliant, Maintenance Manager for TSI says, “We were cautious about biodiesel given the high up time required in our operations. Our approach was to first learn about biodiesel and its characteristics and how it differed from diesel. Once we were satisfied that we could handle any issues we proceeded to first confirm in a few pieces of equipment that the fuel worked and it delivered emissions reductions. Once we had this confirmation we introduced biodiesel across all our equipment. Implementation was easy and TSI made only minor modifications on our tanks and equipment. Given our experience TSI will continue to use biodiesel in the future.”