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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Tractor Surfaces and Could Run on Biomass

Fuel Cell Farm TractorI’ve talked about this particular New Holland NH2 hydrogen fuel cell farm tractor before. And now it has just made an appearance for the first time in Turin, Italy. Throwing off the shroud of secrecy the fuel cell tractor could one day even run on hydrogen created from biomass. In other words, the vehicle would farm its own fuel.

According to Allis-Chalmers the first fuel cell vehicle was in fact, a farm tractor. The New Holland NH2 has a 106 hp fuel cell that supplies power to all four wheels of the vehicle. The fuel cell farm tractor, at this point, contains a small tank only capable of running for 1.5 to 2 hours before needing a refill.

New Holland believes it will have the hydrogen tractor ready for testing by 2011 and production ready by 2013. No longer will we be hearing the roar of farm tractors chugging down the fields or corn, wheat or switch grass as the fuel cell farm tractor is very quiet, compared to current diesel tractors.

Because of a recent discovery by scientists at Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Georgia this fuel cell farm tractor may one day run on hydrogen created from biomass. The researchers developed a “one pot” method to create the highest hydrogen yield from cellulosic materials reported to date.

This potentially self-fueling vehicle could pave the way for many fuel cell farm tractors to follow. This would not eliminate, however, car drivers following slow farm tractors down quiet country roads unable to pass. It would, though, make the following a bit cleaner and quieter.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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4 comments

  1. Is a nice piece on converting ethanol to hydrogen. I’m not so sure I’m sold on the
    idea of converting ethanol to hydrogen because where does the ethanol come
    from? However, it’s nice to see that there are multiple possible pathways to getting
    hydrogen.

  2. sorry nute, if they are talking biomass, then it is methane they they are converting to H2. If they are really smart, they will figure out a way to use the methane without having to convert it

  3. I can’t get the password for nute and I’ve lost it.

    Oh well.

    I think you are thinking of methanol, not natural gas. Biomass is
    a resource of methane or natural gas which can be very efficiently
    converted to hydrogen. Apparently there is a direct methanol fuel cell,
    but I don’t know anything about it.

    Thing is, anything with carbon in it is a hydrocarbon where using it is
    going to release carbon dioxide. Hydrogen can be produced from biomass
    which would be a great source for a farmer. Hydrogen can also be produced
    using bacteria under the right conditions.

    I didn’t mention the ethanol to hydrogen link because this particular tractor
    will be getting hydrogen from that process. I only mentioned it as another
    possible pathway to getting hydrogen. I think a small compressed h2 gas
    tank is a mistake. The tractor should run on magnesium hydride slurry
    instead as this is: transportable, stable, and safer. There is plenty of magnesium in the U.S. where the metal can be recycled. It’s easier to
    refuel the tractor if it takes magnesium hydride slurry and there’s the advantage that it will run longer because the hydrogen content of slurry is higher than that of compressed h2 gas.

    Hydrogen is knocked by people because you have to put energy into
    it to use it as a fuel. Here’s the thing, without hydrogen there would
    be no gasoline. Imagine using that hydrogen directly or creating a
    slurry with it for vehicle use.

    I like the idea of using slurry instead of compressed gas because there
    is no need to create an expensive hydrogen infrastructure. I haven’t heard
    an argument against going from compressed h2 gas to slurry, but noone
    that I know of is designing a hydrogen vehicle to use slurry.

  4. admin

    The company I talk about in this past blog post says they are testing hydrogen slurry with their delivery system on vehicles right now.

    http://www.hydrogencarsnow.com/index.php/hydrogen-fuel-production/hydrogen-slurry-could-hurry-infrastructure-development/

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