The NH2 Tractor is a “farm ready” version of a concept that debuted in 2009, but with double the power, up from 50kw/67hp to 100kw/134hp. It also has double the torque, despite still having just two electric motors, one for traction and one to operate PTO, or power take-off (where you hook up different attachments for different jobs.) New Holland also increased the hydrogen tank size, from from 2.4kg to 8.2kg, providing up to three hours of continuous use. I don’t know how that compares to a standard tractor, so if anyone with more experience wants to chime in, feel free.
Of course, that also begs the question; where will these tractors fuel up? New Holland will begin testing its super-clean tractors at “La Bellotta,” the first “energy independent” farm in Turin, Italy next summer. An “energy independent farm” is one that relys on natural forces to provide all of its energy and fuel usage. For the hydrogen tractor, New Holland is exploring three hydrogen fuel-production efforts.
First is the electrolysis of water, via solar power, an idea being bandied about for an American hydrogen highway as well.
The third, and most out-there method of producing hydrogen on-site involves exploiting the dark anaerobic fermentation of biomass. Basically, breaking down biomass so that when it breaks down, it forms a number of natural gases, among them a large amount of hydrogen. All three methods will be evaluated for their economic feasibility, though method number 2 (stream-reforming natural gas) sounds the most promising to me.
The idea of self-sustaining farms is more than a good idea; it is practically a necessity in the 21st century. As numerous natural disasters in 2011 have made painfully obvious, globalization has led to the creation of fragile, last-minute supply chains. Nevermind the fact that when oil prices go up, so does food. But with a self-sustaining farm network, food prices would be less-impacted by the price of oil (though there is still the cost of transportation
But can New Holland make a hydrogen tractor affordable? More to the point, can they make owning one practical, or is this just a bunch of showmanship? We’ll find out as the test run proceeds.
Source: New Holland