An increasing demand for reduced emissions and energy independence has fueled the need for new technology and the use of alternative fuels on the farm. One of the most promising developments, the New Holland NH2™ hydrogen-powered tractor, will make its North American debut on August 31 at the 2010 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. More than just an idea, the NH2™ tractor is a 106 hp working prototype able to perform all the tasks of a tractor while operating virtually silent and emitting zero pollutants. The tractor will be on display at the New Holland exhibit (# 1048) throughout the three-day show.
New Holland's experimental hydrogen-powered 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 while meeting increasingly stringent emissions standards. The concept is a natural fit with New Holland's Clean Energy Leader position, which saw the company lead the agriculture industry with its support for 100% biodiesel that didn't involve complicated servicing programs or reduced machine performance.
Farmers are in a unique position to benefit from hydrogen technology. Unlike many people, they have the space to install alternative electricity generation systems, such as solar, wind, biomass or waste, 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.
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.
The NH2's fuel cell generates 106 hp and emits only heat, vapor and water. The tractor has zero emissions because it does not produce polluting nitrogen oxides, soot particles or carbon dioxide. And because the NH2 is virtually silent, there's also no noise pollution.
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.