Biodiesel as a tractor fuel? The New Holland view

With red diesel prices approaching 50ppl biodiesel is looking more attractive as a tractor fuel, although is still not economically viable.

As sponsor for the NAAC conference, New Holland’s Ron Perera presented the company’s position on biodiesel’s use in farming.

“All of our research and development is focused on meeting strict new emissions controls,” he said.

“But keeping down carbon dioxide emissions is virtually impossible if you’re burning a carbon-based fuel.

“The only option is to use a fuel that has captured CO2 from the atmosphere in its production – and is ‘carbon neutral’ – such as biodiesel from rapeseed oil.”

But there are limitations in its use, he warns. To meet New Holland’s (and most other manufacturers’) warranty requirements biodiesel must be tested to meet European EN14214 standards.

Users must also change engine oil more frequently as rape methyl ester (RME as biodiesel is also known) can dilute lubricants. Filters also need to be swapped more often to strain out any leftover glycerine.

“Biodiesel is a first generation biofuel – it takes energy to produce and isn’t a consistent, standardised product,” said Mr Perera.

“Until more sophisticated renewable fuels come on-stream, we’re looking into a short term solution with straight vegetable oil – SVO – like Deutz.” 



·       10% less power

·       2-3% greater fuel consumption

·       Cost?

·       Higher cetane number = improved lubricity/smoother running

·       Limited shelf-life – prone to oxidation and water absorption


Does Biodiesel help the environment?

Burning RME reduces carbon monoxide, particulate and hydro-carbon emissions but increases the output of NOx (nitrogen oxides). The way New Holland (and many other engine manufacturers) deal with this is through exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). A small proportion (about 10%) of exhaust gases are cooled and diverted back into the inlet manifold. This reduces combustion temperature which helps to lower NOx emissions.  


Did you know?

India and China are the two fastest growing tractor markets in the world but are not governed by any emissions regulations, allowing manufacturers to sell unregulated engines in their millions, pumping out a vast proportion of the world’s greenhouse gases. This is one of the reasons why the US and Australia object to the Kyoto agreement. China and India are reported to be coming round to the idea of being seen as environmentally responsible and are likely to be included in the next round of WTO environmental talks.

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