New Holland showcases farm-ready hydrogen fuel cell NH2 tractor at Agritechnica; in service at La Bellotta Energy Independent Farm from summer 2012
|The NH2 hydrogen fuel cell tractor. Click to enlarge.|
New Holland previewed the farm-ready version of the hydrogen fuel cell NH2 tractor (earlier post) at the Agritechnica international agricultural machinery show in Hannover in November. Derived from the New Holland T6.140 production model, the new tractor will operate all the implements required for different seasonal operations: soil preparation, seeding, baling, transport, and front loader applications.
Compared to the first NH2, the new model has fuel cells that deliver double the power, increased from 50 to 100kW, as there are now three stacks. The number of on-board electric motors remains the same, one for traction and one to operate the PTO and auxiliary circuits, but their rated power and torque are doubled.
The new NH2 has evolved from the concept that won the Gold Innovation Medal at SIMA 2009. It was developed in collaboration with CRF [Centro Ricerche Fiat], a process that has involved equipping the new machine with all of the features required to ensure it will deliver the kind of performance associated with a conventional diesel tractor, both in the field and on the road.—Riccardo Morselli, Innovation Product Development
Each of the new electric motors has a power output of 100kW, with continuous torque of 950 N·m (701 lb-ft) and maximum torque of 1,200 N·m (885 lb-ft). Top crankshaft speed is 3000 rpm, and efficiency at maximum power output is 96%.
A larger hydrogen tank has been installed to support the three fuel cells. The tank of the new NH2 can hold 8.2 kg of hydrogen at a pressure of 350 bar, opposed to 2.4 kg for the previous model—enough to keep the tractor for working up to three hours, depending upon the load.
Other new features include a 12 kWh, 300V battery, with peak power output of 50 kW; the new Continuously Variable Transmission, replacing the conventional manual gearbox; a suspended front axle; and the inclusion of front loader mounting points as standard.
Performance levels of the new NH2 are more than equal to those of a tractor similar size with a conventional engine, according to New Holland, without the operational exhaust emissions. With a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph), pulling power comparable to that of a standard 120 hp diesel tractor, and a hydraulic system that delivers a maximum of 113 l/min (the same as that of the T6.140 model from which it derives), the new hydrogen-powered NH2 is farm-ready, according to the company.
La Bellotta Energy Independent Farm. The operational début of the new NH2 is scheduled for summer 2012, on the La Bellotta farm in Venaria, near Turin, New Holland’s first Energy Independent Farm. This concept centers on the ability of farms to produce electrical energy from natural sources that have a low environmental impact, and to store it conveniently in the form of hydrogen for subsequent reuse.
The project, initiated by New Holland and implemented in collaboration with a consortium of 13 partners including API-COM, CNR, CRF, Elasis, ENEA, Envi-Park, Ferrari Costruzioni Meccaniche, Roter Italia, Sapio Verderone, Tonutti and Zefiro, is partly funded by the Italian Ministry for Economic Development.
Three methods are being evaluated for the production of hydrogen:
Electrolysis of water, using electrical energy produced by a photovoltaic system already installed on the farm.
Small-scale steam reforming of natural gas; should this prove practically feasible and economically viable, it would be possible to use the methane produced by the digesters of the one MegaWatt biogas generator that has been in operation at La Bellotta for over a year.
Exploiting the dark anaerobic fermentation of biomass: a biological process generating a blend of gases that contains a significant proportion of hydrogen. This method will also be evaluated in terms of feasibility, costs and benefits.
A hydrogen storage tank will be installed on-site, connected to the compressor at a special filling station, so that the NH2 can operate and refuel on the farm just like a conventional tractor.
(A hat-tip to Challenge Bibendum.)