Blue World Technologies partners with AGCO Power on methanol, fuel cell range-extender for electric Fendt tractor
Blue World Technologies and AGCO Power have developed a range extender concept and prototype for an electric Fendt e100 Vario tractor based on Blue World’s HT PEM fuel cell platform enabling long operation time using liquid methanol as fuel.
Field demonstration of an early concept electric Fendt tractor with a methanol fuel cell-powered range extender prototype. Photo: AGCO.
The Range Extender Concept runs on liquid methanol which is converted into a hydrogen-rich gas that powers the fuel cells. The fuel cells generate electricity that charges the tractor batteries while in operation.
Globally, agriculture is responsible for around 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which includes emissions related to machines used in production. With the need for continuous operation, the industry cannot rely solely on direct electrification and battery technology in the transition toward green energy. With high electrical efficiency, the high-temperature PEM fuel cell technology running on methanol can ensure long operation time and fast refueling similar to fueling with conventional liquid fuels like diesel.
Blue World sees the agricultural industry as a promising sector with excessive deployment potential for its methanol fuel cell technology, but the fuel cell platform also has great potential within other industries, e.g., heavy-duty transport, material handling, construction, and other on- and off-road application transforming from conventional diesel-powered engines to green energy.
Using standard components such as methanol reformers and fuel cell stacks, the platform can be tailor-made to fit the desired application and the required power demand.
Each Blue World fuel cell stack typically contains 90 to 160 cells, providing 5 to 20 kW. Several fuel cell stacks can be coupled to meet the required power demand.
The fuel cells are based on high-temperature (HT) PEM technology (operating at 160-180°C) that has a high resistance to impurities making the combination with methanol reforming ideal.
Unlike low-temperature (LT) PEM fuel cells, the HT PEM technology allows for a PFAS-independent production as the HT PEM fuel cell membrane is not based on poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Unique for the HT PEM fuel cells is the potential for waste heat utilisation where part of the waste heat from the fuel cell is used to drive the process of reforming methanol and thereby optimizing the total system efficiency. Furthermore, waste heat can also be used for additional energy recovery.
The fuel cell platform has a high electrical efficiency of 40 to 60% depending on load.
When powered by renewable methanol, the Blue World platform has a net-zero operation.