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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:

  1. Electrolysis of water, using electrical energy produced by a photovoltaic system already installed on the farm.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.)



It is use for this sort of application which makes it a good idea to support fuel cells.
There area lot of tasks which simply cannot be done efficiently using only batteries, and it is the push to make fuel cells available for cars which is cracking the technology.
It is also clear that for some applications concerns about the relative inefficiency of hydrogen use versus electricity is misplaces, as this is using on-site waste products.


New Holland is a respected farm machinery manufacturer and continuous torque of 950 N·m (701 lb-ft) is serious tractor power. 31 mph is a very fast tractor. This would be needed to get back to H2 from the 'back 4,000' acres with only 3(idling?) hours of fuel.

Impressive, but as with all fuel cell power, the price is many times too high to quote.


Im interrested to buy, im waiting for the comments of roger pham, the specialist of hydrogen fuelcells. If they take solar for making hydrogen then they will have surplus hydrogen and that will be free because the costs are just for the system and there is no variable cost so endless hydrogen is feasible and they can open a public hydrogen station at that farm.


4,000 acres is about 16 square kilometres,
That puts you at most 2 kilometres from the hydrogen pump, assuming it is not on some sort of bowser.

So you have a 5 minute run back for fuel, after doing a morning's shift.

As for the cost, technological gear is always expensive at first.

A battery version would need around 1600 kgs of battery, as against the perhaps 400 kgs for the fuel cells, hydrogen and tanks in this.

You would also need a complete set of spare batteries for your afternoon shift, and would have the not inconsiderable problem of swapping a ton and a half of batteries aside from the expense of the spare set.

This could refuel in minutes.

Of course, you could plan to stay on petrol forever, providing only that you have an infinite oil well handy.


Wonderful to see the powers shoving these FC vehicles at us like there's no tomorrow. In fact there is no tomorrow for the fossil industry. Unfortunately the NH2 FC remains far too capital intensive for there to be a positive ROI. How does one pay for a $250k tractor if the crop income remains relatively fixed?

The choice for farmers is buy an impractical, very expensive tractor that lower his/her bottom line... or go down to John Deere and buy a diesel for a fraction of the capital and operating cost.

Of course, if the farmer used biodiesel - they would remain green, enviro and income-wise. Expanding biodiesel production seems a far more practical solution.


A hybrid tractor running on synthetic fuel made from non food biomass would be good.


Why on earth wouldn't they just use natural gas directly from the anaerobic digester?

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Route: Digester-> Reform @ 60% efficiency-> use in FC @ 60% efficiency-> 36% efficiency best case scenario

Direct NG route: Digester-> Optimized natural gas engine-> 35% efficiency

The later route is significantly less capital intensive, possibly more efficient, and doesn't suffer the storage problems experienced by hydrogen.

Dave R

@GreenPlease - NatGas/Methane fuel cell is probably the better option rather than H2. 50% efficient NatGas/Methane fuel cells are on the market today.

This fuel-cell tractor still needs a sizable battery 12 kWh battery since presumably the fuel cells still have issues changing power levels rapidly.


Davemart, I applaud progress, but if the FC cost is too high to state, that ain't what farmers buy. A planting/harvest day is over 12 hours and 1 or 2 hours of fuel, under load, won't get it.


"Why on earth wouldn't they just use natural gas directly from the anaerobic digester?"

You probably cant get any grants or tax subsidies for that.


It helps if you look at what the actual specs are, without inventing new ones!
It is 'up to 3 hours' not 1 to 2 hours as you say.

Perhaps it would be possible to refuel from a bowser.
In any case if you want to use electric rather than petrol this is do-able, which a ~1500kg battery pack is not.

No one is arguing that fuel cells right now are fully competitive, but that is a long way from saying that they never will be.

I would agree that at this time it is likely better to go for using biofuel in an ICE engine, but this is forward looking technology.

Account Deleted


fuckin' Greenwashing joke.


"..working up to three hours, depending upon the load."

3 hours at idle might not even be a half hour at wide open throttle (WOT - the setting when plowing, pulling a full load, ...)


It says 'working' for up to 3 hours.
That is not idling, and it is a pretty desperate misreading of the information to claim that it is.


This must be a Lab model. Competitive priced mass production is not for tomorrow.


Davemart, it's called marketing. If the H2 tank could honestly run the FC power over 3 hours it would have been stated, even if working was idling along pulling an empty 2 wheel lawn cart.


I am looking forward to interviewing this company for our new documentary film on alternative fuels and cars. I love the fact that they are creating the hydrogen from biowaste. Any experts on this page that might be willing to be interviewed on the subject of finding creative ways to become energy independent from petroleum-based fuels? Find me on Twitter/LuisAponte . Thanks!

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