New Holland's Drive Concept of the Future

New Holland's Drive Concept of the Future

New Holland's hydrogen powered tractor made its German debut at Agritechnica 2009. Experts have long agreed that future driver systems for tractors and combines must be based on electricity so New Holland presented its drive concept for the future in the form of its NH² tractor.

Because of the large amounts of power needed for these large machines, and the low levels of energy recovery, batteries are not a suitable power source for this type of vehicle, unlike cars and industrial trucks.

The concept of the energy independent farm, presented by New Holland at the beginning of the 2009 aims to make farms independent of external energy suppliers. The electricity which powers the NH² is produced from hydrogen using fuel cells. The New Holland NH² operates almost silently and emits only water and steam.

The fuel cells have a long service life and do not cause environmental and waste disposal problems in the same way as batteries do - nor do they lose their storage capacity over time. Compressed hydrogen has a high energy density. It can easily be stored in a tank over a long period which means that vehicles can be refilled quickly and conveniently.

The main obstacles to the use of hydrogen are distribution and availability. The concept of the New Holland energy independent farm involves the farmer producing his own supply of compressed hydrogen either from water (using electrolysis) or directly from methane (by burning waste or biomass). The production plants are supplied with energy from wind turbines or solar panels and the hydrogen can be stored on the farm in underground tanks. One benefit is the short distance (compared with cars and trucks) that tractors and combines cover between the farm and the field.

Farmers are ideally placed to use hydrogen technology. They have large areas of land for alternative energy generation plants (solar power, wind energy, biomass plants or waste systems) and for the storage of energy in the form of hydrogen. In addition to the environmental benefits, a system of this kind would allow farmers to be independent of external energy suppliers and to increase their financial stability, as fuel represents a significant proportion of overall farm costs.

As well as the development of the hydrogen powered NH² tractor, New Holland is making good progress turning its plan for an energy independent farm into reality. Projects are currently being set up on three farms; in France, Germany and Italy. Further prototypes of the NH² tractor will be produced for these farms. New Holland's ambitious project is currently on schedule. Testing on these farms is planned this year.