I’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.