• Feb 21st 2009 at 11:06AM
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Click above for a gallery of the New Holland NH2

What fuel will power agricultural equipment in the future? There are a number of alternatives to the tried and true fossil fuels that we're currently favoring, and many of them use crops that can be gathered right on site by the vehicles that are eventually going to use them. Ethanol (or other alcohol based fuels) and biodiesel stand out as the most commonly cited options, but some still have hydrogen on the brain. Farms may be an ideal source for the electricity needed to extract hydrogen from water since there is often an abundance of wind, sun or both. Still, the question remains: Why not just store that electricity and use it in something electric?

The New Holland NH2 is billed as the world's first hydrogen-powered tractor, and it's just debuted in conceptual form in Italy. The zero-emissions tractor gets its power from a fuel cell that sends electrons to a 106-horsepower electric motor powering all four wheels. Problems include a major lack of range and an awfully high price, so New Holland isn't expecting to put the model into production until 2013.

[Source: New Holland via Farmers Weekly Interactive]


New Holland's triple win at SIMA for NH2 hydrogen powered tractor, EasyDrive™ transmission and Intelligent User Interface

New Holland Agriculture has won both Gold and Silver medals at the SIMA Innovation Awards 2009 for the impressive NH2 hydrogen-powered tractor and the advanced EasyDrive™ transmission respectively. The brand also received a Special Mention for its Intelligent User Interface, a fully-automated combine optimisation system, highlighting the broad scope of innovative technology New Holland develops for the benefit of its customers.

New Holland's Energy Independent Farm and NH2™ tractor concept offers farmers autonomous future

New Holland's Energy Independent Farm concept has far-reaching benefits for its customers, allowing them to create, store and use power in a convenient format. Central to the concept is the ability to produce electricity from natural, environmentally-friendly sources and then reuse that electricity in a convenient and practical way. The impressive hydrogen-powered NH2™ tractor, which won a Gold Medal at the SIMA Innovation Awards 2009, is just one part of a greater vision to free farmers from the increasing cost of fuel.

Energy Independent Farm concept
Fuel costs form a significant proportion of farmers operating costs now and in the future. New Holland believes hydrogen technology will give farmers an independent supply of energy, which could be used in a wide variety of vehicles and applications, giving them greater control over the future of their business.

The traditional barriers to the use of hydrogen centre on its distribution and availability. The wide roaming capability of cars and lorries means use of hydrogen in commercial and personal vehicles has been limited primarily by the lack of an extensive national distribution system, which would be very costly to implement.

The Energy Independent Farm concept envisages farmers producing their own compressed hydrogen from water and storing the hydrogen on the farm. Using a process called electrolysis, electricity produced by wind farms, solar panels or biomass and biogas processes situated on the farm would break water down into hydrogen and oxygen. While the hydrogen-powered NH2™ tractor is the first practical step, it is wider implications of New Holland's Energy Independent Farm concept that could revolutionise the agricultural industry and allow it to leapfrog the energy concerns of other industries.

"Farmers are in a unique position to benefit from hydrogen technology. Unlike many people, they have the space to install alternative electricity generation systems, such as solar, wind, biomass or waste, and then store that power as hydrogen. Apart from the environmental benefits, such a system would allow customers to become energy independent and improve their financial stability" said Pierre Lahutte, New Holland's head of Global Product Marketing, Tractors & Telehandlers

Hydrogen-power technologies are already receiving strong support at an international level with the European Commissioner for Research stating that 'the ultimate objective of this technological platform will be the deployment of a competitive European energy system'.

Unique advantages of using hydrogen
Many electrical production systems are currently in use by farms around the world, harnessing the power of the wind, sun and biomass. However, the electrical power that is not used at the time of production must be sold back to the national power system or lost. The Independent Farm Concept extends this process by allowing the power to be stored in the form of compressed hydrogen, which could then be used directly in farm machinery or in generators to provide electrical power and heat for buildings and numerous applications.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles have been in development for many years, and in agriculture, offer benefits over battery-driven vehicles, which are efficient only in a stop-and-start cycle and take a long time to recharge.

Vehicles powered by hydrogen overcome these obstacles by using a hydrogen fuel tank feeding fuel cells to generate electricity within the vehicle, offering greater efficiency and improved flexibility. Fuel cells have a long working life and avoid the environmental issues of disposing of batteries.

Energy-dense hydrogen can be stored conveniently in a tank on the farm as a compressed gas and the vehicle can be refuelled quickly. The relatively short operating distance from a central working base would give vehicles easy access to a central hydrogen tank installed at the farm, or satellite tanks both fixed and mobile.

NH2™ hydrogen-powered tractor
The hydrogen-powered NH2™ tractor is a key element and practical demonstration of New Holland's Energy Independent Farm concept. The first tractor in the world to be powered by hydrogen, the concept is a natural fit with the brand's Clean Energy Leader position, which saw the company lead the industry with its support for 100% biodiesel without complicated servicing programmes or reduced machine performance.

Based on the popular T6000, the experimental NH2™ tractor replaces the traditional combustion engine with hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity. Compressed hydrogen drawn from a tank on the tractor reacts in the fuel cell with oxygen, drawn from the air, to produce water and electrons. The electrons are harnessed in the form of an electric current, which drives electric motors to power the tractor's drivetrain and auxiliary systems.

It is the close commercial reality of the NH2™ tractor that makes the project of huge benefit to the brand's customers. More than just an idea, the NH2™ tractor is a 106hp working prototype able to perform all the tasks of a T6000 tractor, while operating virtually silently and emitting only heat, vapour and water. The fuel cell generates less heat than an internal combustion engine, offers a consistent output of power and does not produce polluting nitrogen oxides, soot particles or carbon dioxide. The clean operation of the tractor brings added health benefits when working in confined areas, such as animal sheds or greenhouses.

New Holland's Energy Independent Farm concept offers farmers a positive vision for the future, enabling them to control their business costs while meeting the ever-growing demands to more productive, more efficient and protect the environment.

EasyDrive™ : SIMA Silver medal for New Holland's advanced CVT

New Holland's advanced continuously variable transmission will bring new levels of seamless operation and a more efficient use of engine power to smaller tractors, the two key features that helped the EasyDrive™ transmission win a Silver medal at the SIMA Innovation Awards 2009. Like the Gold-medal winning NH2™ hydrogen-powered tractor, the new EasyDrive™ gearbox illustrates New Holland's innovative approach to create superior solutions for its customers.

Efficient power delivery
The new EasyDrive™ transmission brings with it quieter operation, better power transmission and greater fuel efficiency. EasyDrive™ will be introduced on the Boomer 3000 tractor range but will become available on a wide range of New Holland tractors from 40hp to 115hp, offering big-tractor productivity and ease-of-use features in smaller platforms.

The challenge for New Holland engineers was to create a transmission that exceeded the performance of a traditional hydrostatic or mechanical gearbox. The heart of the transmission is the Chain Drive Variator, comprising a steel chain running between two variable diameter pulleys. Each pulley consists of one moveable disc and one fixed disc that have sloped surfaces. The discs can be moved closer or farther apart to vary their effective diameter and provide an infinite number of transmission ratios.

The SIMA judges were impressed by the way engine power is transmitted directly to the sun gear of an epicyclic gear set and to the planet carrier of the epicyclic via the Chain Drive Variator. This split ensures not all the engine power goes via the variator, improving power delivery and efficiency. The ring gear is then connected by the output shaft to the axles.

Smooth performance and easy control
The Boomer EasyDrive™ has a speed range of 0.3 km/h to 30 km/h and moves seamlessly and continuously from minimum to maximum speed without any abrupt changes. Sensors are used to measure torque, engine speed and variator speed to control the transmission electronically.

As the tractor pulls away or requires higher torque, EasyDrive™ will automatically move to a low setting, then returns to a higher, more fuel-efficient setting when the load is reduced. As such, the operator needs only a shuttle lever and a Speed Control pedal to manage the transmission. The pedal fixes engine speed and the transmission controller maximises forward speed for the applied load. Once the pedal is released, the tractor will decelerate to a stop in a smooth and controlled manner and hold that condition, even if it is on a steep slope.

Three transmission modes allow 30%, 60% or 100% of maximum forward speed to be achieved with the pedal fully depressed, enabling the operator to set the speed range for the current application, while the top 25% of the pedal movement allows the feathering of the forward/reverse clutch for coupling to implements.

The highly flexible EasyDrive™ transmission gives the operator a very high level of control and features useful driver aids for maximum productivity. Anti-stall can disengage the drive before the engine stalls, ideal when pushing a loader into heavy material or overcoming a particularly high working load. Reactivity settings allow the operator to control the speed of change of the transmission ratios from fast, useful when operating in a loader cycle, to slow to prevent turf damage in amenity applications. In addition, an automotive-style cruise control allows the operator to hold or fine tune working speeds for fixed-speed applications.

Exceeding the performance of even the latest Hydrostatic developments, the innovative EasyDrive™ transmission offers New Holland's customers new levels of efficiency and functionality. Combined with New Holland's trademark usability and quiet operation, EasyDrive™ allows operators to make the most of this innovative technology easily.

New Holland's Intelligent User Interface puts a harvesting expert in the cab

The growing sophistication of modern combine harvesters and the importance of achieving maximum grain quality with minimum grain loss have made the operation of a combine an increasingly skilled role.
New Holland's Intelligent User Interface puts a wealth of harvesting experience at the disposal of the operator, automatically monitoring output and correcting settings at the touch of a button. The system, which earned New Holland a Special Mention at the SIMA Innovation Awards 2009, allows operators to harvest with confidence and assists them in optimising the combine to achieve maximum performance.

Expert guidance
The wide range of machine settings, crops and harvesting conditions faced by a farmer or contractor can require extensive experience to keep the combine operating to its highest capability. Further pressure is placed on the operator when grain prices are low and fuel prices are high, and the difference between a poor setup and a well-configured machine can make a huge difference to the revenue generated. These issues are compounded with the trend for large combines to replace several smaller machines, and it becomes essential that the combine continuously operates at its optimum ability.

New Holland's Intelligent User Interface allows the operator to quickly and easily optimise the combine settings for every crop and working condition. Key operating parameters are continuously monitored and displayed on the IntelliView monitor and compared with parameters set at the start of harvest. Should operation fall outside these preset limits, the operator simply presses the ACS (Automatic Crop Settings) Help button on the IntelliView monitor, and the system will recommend changes to the combine setup. The operator can choose to accept or cancel the recommendation, and if accepted the combine will automatically make the necessary adjustments.

The Intelligent User Interface will first alter the parameter that is furthest from the optimal setting. Once accepted by the operator, the system will wait 60 seconds to monitor the effect of the change before making further recommendations.

Grain loss from the separation and cleaning areas as well as the returns volume are monitored. This is further enhanced by monitoring the amount of cracked grain or grain impurities if New Holland's award-winning Grain Cam system is installed. Rotor speed, concave clearance, sieves settings and cleaning fan speed can all be adjusted by the system to optimise performance. Recommendations to consider other adjustments will also be given.

Increased daily output
Once the parameters are set by an experienced combine operator, the machine will not need to be regularly checked. Operators with limited experience can adjust the machine quickly and easily, confident that the adjustments are based on current working conditions and ensuring the highest capacity of the combine is reached.

In contrast to other control systems, the Intelligent User Interface is the only system available that actively suggests and implements adjustments. Recommended adjustments are determined for each specific crop enabling the Intelligent User Interface to be effective in all grain-producing regions globally.

New Holland will first introduce the new Intelligent User Interface technology on the CR9000 rotary combines.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Oh yeah, a tractor for 3-4 million $ and cannot be refueled. This hydrogen BS can't die.

      "Hydrogen is the fuel of the future and always will be!" LOL! :)
        • 6 Years Ago
        "no cleaner fuel?" Hmm, I'd say that electricity was "cleaner" as it doesn't leak and doesn't damage the ozone layer, and being more efficient than H2 means less demand on the environment.

        To be sure, some methods of generating electricity do produce pollution, just as the cheapest methods of producing H2 produce pollution, but clean renewable sources could eventually replace those dirty sources. It's just quicker and easier to do if we use the more efficient electric power option, instead of wasting energy on making H2 fuel.

        Could a couple of decades of research solve the H2 problems of expensive bulky storage and very expensive H2 fuel cells and expensive H2 fuel? Possibly, though H2 can never be as cheap and efficient as electricity, and EVs and PHEVs will be controlling the market long before then. H2 is obsolete even before it gets going.

        Noz, you remind me of those who thought we shouldn't have bothered with stringing up wires for AC electrical distribution, we should have developed that newfangled wireless power transmission Tesla was fiddling with! Ignore the cost, ignore the horrible efficiency, ignore possible risks to health and the environment, wireless power means no more ugly wires!

        • 6 Years Ago
        The Edison DC current system had limited range and had to be made locally in small, expensive to run plants, that accounted for the high cost. But in less than 20 years, Tesla had developed the more efficient AC current system that allowed power to be sent long distances efficiently, and be "mass produced" in large efficient power plants, such as the hydroelectric Niagra project. That quickly brought the cost of electricity way down.

        Curiously, though, H2 has been mass produced on an industrial scale for decades, but it is still an expensive fuel at $8 to $10 per Kq. H2 fuel cells have been intensively researched for over 4 decades, and they are still extravagantly expensive. Storing electrical energy via H2 is still only 24% efficient compared to 85% efficiency for batteries.

        Oops, I said the "E" word. Hydrogen fanboys don't like it when you mention "efficiency", it makes their dream fuel look bad.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah you mean the same BS when back in Setember 1882 when Edison paid an equivalent of $5 per kilowatt-hour to give light to 85 very wealthy people?? I hope you use candles and matches to get light otherwise you're the ultimate hypocrite using electricity at 9 cents per kilowatt hour.

        Gee...that's a cost reduction of 56 times and improved efficiency of components over time.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You can make excuses until your face turns blue. The issue is that progress was made in the face of denial and resistance to change.

        It took time, it took money, it took convincing.

        You're the exact equivalent to naysayers 100 years ago. I doubt anyone ever in their wildest dreams imagine electricity would ever be so affordable and so much a part of their lives.

        Again, thank goodness for people who didn't listen and did what they did because they believed in it.

        Hydrogen technology may not mature in my life time, but it wil eventually because there is no cleaner fuel you can use. Period. Hydrogen has not been researched extensively because the technology available for mass storage and other hurdles has not been fully developed or overcome. To think it won't be is naive at best. If anything, battery research and development has only recently taken off in a way that we can truly benefit from...and on a small scale only.

      • 6 Years Ago
      For many agricultural aplications I think is better concentrating on batteries. Not sure for tractors of this size, but if needed, a small enginee could support the battery pack.
      In addition, weight should not be an issue, and a combination of lead acid batteries and supercapacitators could be the best from cost point of view.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You're right Toni, once we get enough vehicles onto electric power there will be lots of diesel fuel available for 100 years to power the tractors to grow our food.

        Then in 100 years the batteries will be so good we (well not us) won't need the diesel anymore.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Amazing piece of engineering and design, well ahead of it's time. Way to go, New Holland. Now all they need to do to make it affordable and practical is to convert it to biodiesel!
        • 6 Years Ago
        I suspect they'll quietly drop the fuel cell, but use the new transmission design for a diesel/biodiesel version.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Chris M, you are always right on!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Interesting , but quite misleading.
      A company called Allis Chalmers operated a fuel cell powered tractor on what they called propane in the early 60's.
      This latest may be literally the first "H2" powered FC tractor but the Allis tractor operated on H2 from propane
      • 6 Years Ago
      Noz, I highly doubt you are an engineer who work’s for NASA as you say, judging by your conduct on this board, you seem far to belligerent and rude for that to be true.

      In Ontario, Canadian engineers have a code of ethics and professional conduct that is regulated and enforced by the association of Professional Engineers Ontario, PEO, and you could be found guilty of professional misconduct for rude behavior in a public form such as ABG because it could be deemed offensive and in turn reflect poorly against the profession of engineering and the association you represent.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well...then I guess if calling you out is rude...then I'm rude. Sorry.

        As far as acting the part, I can't say I think highly of your professionalism either. I rebutted, you got offended. That seems to be a personality issue you are bringing into the mix.

        I suggest you don't.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The idea of powering cars with hydrogen fuel cells is already idiotic, but in the case of agricultural vehicles it's downright ridiculous. Not only do they see heavier use -and abuse- than any car for a much longer time, they're also mostly in places where -even if a hydrogen infrastructure would somehow magically appear- you'd be unlikely to ever see a hydrogen refueling station.
      Of course, their solution is that "energy independent farm" nonsense, but that, too, suffers from the fatal flaw of every concept involving hydrogen: It's more expensive and less efficient than all the other concepts NOT involving hydrogen. Which, by the way, are already proven to work.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually Allis -Chalmers demonstrated a fuel cell tractor in 1959 It is now housed at the Smithsonion
        • 6 Years Ago
        Oich, I was wondering when someone would mention that. So this isn't the "worlds first", just "Italys first" or maybe "Europes first".

        Still, it will be just as successful as that first Allis-Chalmers effort, that is, it will become a museum piece of no practical use.
      • 6 Years Ago
      While the challenge of making hydrogen fuel cells economically feasible remains, this is an interesting and encouraging demonstration. At http/www.futurist.com we support advanced research and development like this, and would like to see much more funding poured into such efforts.
      • 6 Years Ago

      Dear AutoBloggreen,

      I am requesting your permission for using this beautiful image of the amazing New Holland tractor. We are going to use this image for an advertising campaign for one of our clients. The theme we are riding on is about futuristic inventions. We will use this for a tele-communications brand which is not in conflict with the tractor. The tractor will work as a visual metaphor for our campaign as we are going for a futuristic theme.
      We are basically asking if we can use this image for free.


      Thato M
      • 6 Years Ago
      I love these press releases with their ground breaking headlines and all their wonderful specs except the most important one of all...


      (if it's 2-3x more than their competitiors... who cares!)
        • 6 Years Ago
        More like 10 to 20 times. Nope, ain't gonna happen.

        Farmers are too practical and pragmatic to go wasting money on fad fool cells.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Indeed..no cleaner fuel. Name one. Again, let me know when you'll fly 500 passengers transatlantic on batteries.

      Again, you seem to have a complete disconnect on where hydrogen should come from and what it should be used for. it should come from clean sources...such as hydraulic, etc.

      For large scale transport, using clean sourced H2 will be far more efficient than batteries. And that is where we'll see the most benefit first.

      Chris M, you forget you are exactly the type of person that stood in Tesla's way. If it wasn't for people like yourself, Tesla would probably have been able to do what he was supposed to do and more. But instead, he was faced with skeptics, people who complained more about costs today than in the future, and people who couldn't bring themselves to realize that cost is more than just what it costs to make the fuel. It's also long term environmental impact.

      But even Tesla didn't know what environmental impacts his approach was to have. As we are perhaps finding out now, wireless, RF, EM isn't all that good for you. The irony is laughable.
        • 6 Years Ago
        ELECTRICITY ! Can you read that? Ye olde Reddy Kilowatt is cleaner and more efficient and cheaper than H2. How about those ships powered by wind! Now we have two cleaner power sources!

        As for the cell phone analogy - Noz is like someone back in the brick sized thousand dollar cell phone era insisting that we all must give up land lines and use those big expensive bricks. Sorry, but cell phones didn't catch on until after smaller and far cheaper cell phones were developed. When affordable fuel cells and affordable H2 storage comes along, then we can talk. Until then, lets use something available and affordable now.

        The efficiency of fuel cells doesn't change with size, sorry, there is no size at which an H2 vehicle magically becomes more efficient than batteries. Energy efficiency does matter, especially if we want clean but limited renewable sources to replace fossil fuel Why waste 76% of our electricity with the H2 option, when batteries would only lose 15%?

        No, I wouldn't have "stood in Tesla's way" as far as A/C power was concerned, from the very beginning A/C power was more efficient and cheaper than Edison's D/C power system. But I wouldn't have invested in Tesla's wireless power scheme, as it was terribly inefficient, horribly expensive and made no economic sense. Still is, nearly a century later. Kinda like H2 fuels.

        Speaking of irony, you seem concerned about RF and EM hazards, but seem blithely unconcerned about possible risks from H2. Tell me, were you aware that H2 leaks through anything? Were you aware that it is much lighter than air, thus leaked H2 keeps rising? Did you know that H2 reacts with ozone, literally burning it away? Can you put those pieces together?
      • 6 Years Ago
      So, if you are an engineer, you should try to act like one!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Allis-Chalmers had a tractor that was the first tractor and first vehicle in the world that was fuel cell powered in 1959 I think that New Holland is a little under 50 years late at being the worlds first.
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