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.
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.