New Holland, PA (March 31, 2009) – New Holland’s experimental hydrogen-powered NH2™ tractor is a key element in 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 New Holland’s Clean Energy Leader position, which saw the company lead the industry with its support for 100% biodiesel without complicated servicing programs or reduced machine performance.
Based on the popular New Holland T6000 Series tractor, the experimental NH2™ tractor replaces the traditional combustion engine with hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity. Compressed hydrogen drawn from a tank on the tractor reacts in the fuel cell with oxygen, drawn from the air, to produce water and electrons. The electrons are harnessed in the form of an electric current, which drives electric motors to power the tractor’s drivetrain and auxiliary systems.
More than just an idea, the NH2™ tractor is a 106 hp working prototype able to perform all the tasks of a T6000 Series tractor, while operating virtually silently and emitting only heat, vapor and water. The fuel cell generates less heat than an internal combustion engine, offers a consistent output of power and does not produce polluting nitrogen oxides, soot particles or carbon dioxide. The clean operation of the tractor brings added health benefits when working in confined areas, such as barns or greenhouses.
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 loose 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.