EARLY this morning New Holland Agriculture unveiled a methane powered concept tractor.
Following a trend in concept vehicle launches, the announcement made at the US Farm Progress Show was also broadcast globally on Facebook Live.
Carlo Lambro, brand president of New Holland Agriculture said this was a glimpse into the future of sustainable farming.
Mr Lambro said work on alternative fuel prototype tractors had been on-going, with development of propane and methane fuelled tractors beginning in 2012 and now at the advanced stage.
“We are ready to start the production of the methane tractor within the next three years,” he said.
We are ready to start the production of the methane tractor within the next three years
Mr Lambro said the methane concept launch was just the beginning.
“We don’t see these as the end of or road, we are still looking for next stage on our path to a truly sustainable agriculture,” he said.
Carbon neutral future
New Holland has a relatively long history in working toward carbon neutral fuel as part of their ‘Clean Energy Leader’ strategy.
In 2006 the company claimed the position as the first manufacturer offering compatibility with Biodiesel.
The world’s first hydrogen tractor concept, NH2 was launched by New Holland in 2009.
In the same year the company launched the ‘Energy Independent Farm’ concept in Italy, which has allowed New Holland to utilise bio-methane produced by a plant on farm in the methane concept tractor.
While methane can be produced through bio-plant equipment from plant and waste materials it is also the major component of natural gas.
As a hydrocarbon fuel, the combustion of natural gas currently adds to the total atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and compressed natural gas (CNG) is currently not used widely in Australia as a fuel source.
This makes carbon neutral fuel from CO2 a viable option
In June the University of Adelaide announced that research undertaken with CSIRO had developed a catalyst that converts carbon dioxide from the air into a synthetic natural gas.
Professor Christian Doonan, Adelaide University director of the Centre for Advanced Nanomaterials, said they had produced a highly active and stable catalyst that would run on solar energy.
“This makes carbon neutral fuel from CO2 a viable option,” he said.
Sean Lennon, tractor line director New Holland Agriculture said advancements in the engine also reduced emissions and produced cost savings in fuel.
“The engine, which represents a significant technological advance, was developed by FTP industrial specifically for agricultural applications,” he said.
The FTP engine began development in 1995 and has been continually worked on since then.
“It uses a pioneering efficient combustion technology, developed in house, which achieves exceptionally clean combustion and reduced emissions”
“In real field conditions, the methane powered concept tractor produces at least ten percent lower CO2 emissions and reduces overall emissions by eighty percent compared to a standard diesel tractor.”
CNH Industrial, a division of New Holland Agriculture's parent company designed the tractor.
“This tractor looks very different from the tractors you see running today,” said Mr Lambro.
“We have re-imagined the tractor to achieve a highly integrated styling and strong iconic elements and we took also ergonomic design, technology and connectivity a step further to make the farmer life much easier, efficient and productive,” he said.