In three years, farmers could be using methane produced on their farms to fuel New Holland methane-powered tractors.
In the future, farms could be completely energy independent, producing all the fuel and energy required right on the farm. That’s the vision New Holland unveiled on the first day of the 2017 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, as the company invited media to take a first look at its methane-powered concept tractor.
In this video, Mark Howell, global product manager at CNH Industrial, New Holland’s parent company, tells Kelvin Heppner that the tractors have the ability to use biomethane from on-farm sources such as manure and feedstock. Howell explains that the company plans to move quickly to bring the tractors on-farm because the methane engine has a spark-ignition that allows it to run on propane that’s already widely available on-farm. He says North American farmers have the ability to run on propane while they continue to develop biodigesting, methane-producing technology on their farms.
Howell says the tractors will be available commercially in three years.
New Holland believes the new methane-powered tractor concept represents a significant technological advance, building on the foundations of previous prototypes. It uses an engine specifically developed for agricultural applications and delivers maximum power of 180hp and maximum torque of 740nm – identical to the equivalent diesel powerplant. The engine features stoichiometric combustion technology, which has been developed by FPT Industrial, and was first introduced in 1995.
The methane-powered concept tractor features advanced fuel tank design that enables day-long autonomy, says New Holland. In addition to farm-grown energy crops, crop residue and other waste products are used to produce biomethane, the resulting fuel has a virtually zero CO2 profile – and delivers an 80% reduction in overall emissions.
The concept’s powertrain develops the same power and torque as its standard diesel counterpart, meaning identical infield performance, notes New Holland. This is achieved with a 50% reduction in drive-by noise levels, which makes it ideal when working in the yard, especially around livestock and in municipal operations.