New Holland’s NH2 fuel cell tractor will make its first UK appearance at the LAMMA show, Newark, in January.
Based on the shell of a T6000, this is the first solely hydrogen-powered tractor to be shown by a tractor manufacturer, and had its debut at the SIMA show in February of this year, where it won a Gold medal for innovation.
Hydrogen, stored at 350 bar in a tank under the bonnet, is passed over one electrode, while oxygen (from the air pump) is passed over the other, after which a catalyst extracts electrons from the hydrogen. The electricity produced then passes to a pair of electric motors, one supplying drive, the other providing power for pto and auxiliary services.
Because it runs purely on hydrogen and oxygen, the only by-product is water, a result of the hydrogen recombining with air at the end of the process.
The fuel cell used in the NH2 generates 106hp but, according to Christophe Lemaitre, product marketing manager for New Holland, there will be no limit in terms of horsepower available, as long as there’s room for additional stacks in the vehicle (in the NH2, there’ are three).
Fuel cells are prohibitively expensive, admits NH, but technology in this area is developing quickly. “We could see commercially viable cells coming online as soon as 2018,” reckons Mr Lemaitre.
One limiting factor is where would farmers get the hydrogen from. And this is where NH’s Energy-Independent Farm concept comes in – here’s a video explaining it.
The idea is that farms would generate the electicity needed to produce the hydrogen through renewable sources on-farm like wind, solar or via biogas.
And, if fuel prices start escalating again, it won’t be long before paying nothing for your fuel becomes very attractive.