The manufacturer adds tests have shown it to be just as capable as a diesel tractor at carrying out a variety applications.While you may get a slightly disconcerting feeling sat surrounded by fuel tanks pressurised to 200bar, we are assured they meet the same automotive standards as used in cars and commercial vehicles.Tank capacity is 300 litres, equivalent to 52kg of compressed bio-methane gas, enough for half a day’s work, according to New Holland. As for the transmission and rear-end, it is exactly the same as a regular production T6.With an engine output of 136hp and 350Nm and power and torque curves similar to a diesel equivalent, New Holland was encouraged enough to progress to the next phase.
But, you could say development is heading in the right direction and the manufacturer is already looking into how it can expand the tractor’s working window by incorporating fuel tanks in the front ballast, or even in tanks on the implement.As for the technology involved, it is nothing new to CNH Industrial, which has been using FPT-developed engines in its Iveco commercial vehicles such as vans, trucks and buses for many years.As a result, production of this tractor is not as complicated as you might think, says New Holland.Those of you with a decent memory will remember that this is not New Holland’s first foray into alternative fuels and has already developed a hydrogen fuel cell powered tractor.Unfortunately, it cost a lot to develop and is just not viable at the moment.
Steyr single cylinder tractor
Driven on by its vision of an energy independent farm concept which is being piloted at the La Bellotta farm just outside of Turin, New Holland continues to develop and refine its methane powered tractor idea.Now on prototype number two, the original concept saw one of New Holland’s T6.140 tractors adapted to accommodate one of sister firm and engine manufacturer, FPT’s four cylinder, F1C gas-fuelled engine.The only real difference compared to equivalent diesel tractors is engine and fuel storage tanks; everything else is pretty much identical, allowing the tractors to be built using existing production lines and techniques.Unfortunately, maximum power produced by a methane-fuelled engine is more governed by displacement volume compared to a diesel engine which has a greater window of tuning.The firm does say though when the cost of producing one does come down it may look into the technology again.
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For now, methane power suits the current situation.Even a look under the bonnet things and still look business as usual, apart from the addition of spark plugs.Ancillaries such as cooling pack, alternator and starter motor are the same too. While New Holland is taking current plaudits for the methane-powered tractor, it was sister tractor brand, Steyr, who kicked off the concept by showing a methane-powered tractor at the 2011 Agritechnica using the aforementioned F1C engine.While prototype number one proved the concept worked, its use of a half chassis and a small, high revving engine did mean it was regarded as a ‘special’ build.The aim of the second prototype was to make the concept more akin to a regular tractor.