New Holland Debuts Fuel Cell Tractor in Europe
The hydrogen-powered NH2 tractor is a key element in New Holland’s Energy Independent Farm concept, a project that hopes to free farmers from the cost of purchased fossil-fuel and allow them to achieve fuel autonomy. The concept is a natural fit with the brand’s Clean Energy Leader position.
Based on the popular T6000, the experimental NH2 tractor replaces the internal combustion engine with hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity, which drives electric motors to power the tractor. More than just an idea, the NH2 tractor is a 120hp working prototype able to perform all the tasks of a T6000, while operating virtually silently and emitting only water and vapour.
Hydrogen-powered vehicles have been in development for several years, offering many benefits over battery-driven vehicles, which are efficient only in a stop-and-start cycle and take a long time to recharge. The working cycle of agricultural vehicles is similar to a car running on the highway at a constant speed. Vehicles powered by hydrogen overcome these obstacles by using a compressed-hydrogen fuel to feed automotive fuel cells to generate electricity. Fuel cells have a long working life and avoid the environmental issues of disposing of batteries, which lose their accumulation capacity during their life. Energy-dense compressed hydrogen can be stored conveniently in a tank, allowing the energy to be stored for an extremely long period and the vehicle to be refuelled quickly.
Traditional barriers to the use of hydrogen centre on its distribution and availability. New Holland’s Energy Independent Farm concept envisages customers producing their own compressed hydrogen from water, using a process called electrolysis or directly from methane by burning waste or biomasses. Production systems would be powered by wind farms or solar panels and the hydrogen would be stored at the farm in underground tanks, taking advantage of tractors’ and combines’ short working distance from the farm, when compared to cars or lorries.
Farmers are in a unique position to benefit from hydrogen technology. They have the space to install alternative electricity generation systems, such as solar, wind, biomass or waste plants, and then store that power as hydrogen. Apart from the environmental benefits, such a system would allow customers to become energy independent and improve their financial stability, as fuel costs form a significant proportion of their operating costs now and in the future.
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