NEW Holland Agriculture, with the world’s first production T6 Methane Power Tractor at the EIMA exhibition, was crowned Sustainable Tractor of the Year 2022 – the prestigious award decided by the Tractor of the Year jury.
The T6 Methane Powered Concept won in 2019 at Agritechnica the same title and at that stage was a concept at testing phase.
Carlo Lambro, New Holland Brand President, commented: “We are very proud of receiving the title Sustainable Tractor of the Year Award again but for our production tractor.
“This is the culmination of New Holland’s pioneering work on the use of alternative fuels through our Clean Energy Leader strategy, and it is a significant step forward on the path to decarbonising agriculture.
“This award is a well-deserved recognition of the hard work and dedication of all those involved in the development of the T6.180 Methane Power tractor series, from our engineering teams to the whole Basildon plant team.”
New Holland is producing the full series production at the brand’s Basildon tractor plant for Europe, with units currently undergoing practical testing by farmers across European markets.
Since 2006, when New Holland launched its Clean Energy Leader strategy, followed by the unveiling in 2013 of the brand’s first methane-fuelled T6 series-based tractor prototype, the business has repeatedly underlined its commitment to following through its environmental promises and contributing to CO2 reduction.
First shown in 2017 and launched officially two years later, the T6.180 Methane Power features a re-engineered six-cylinder FPT Industrial NEF engine producing 175hp like its diesel-fuelled equivalent. Gas injectors and spark plugs replace the diesel injector, with the gas injected into each cylinder for constant, clean, maximised combustion.
Compared to the limits allowed under EU Stage V emissions rules, carbon monoxide emissions from the methane-powered T6.180 are 80 per cent lower, while the level of non-methane hydrocarbons is reduced by 90 per cent. Particulate matter is down by 98 per cent, nitrous oxide by 62 per cent, and CO2 by 11 per cent. However, the T6.180 Methane Power has the same 175hp maximum power output with boost as its conventional cousin and produces maximum torque of 740Nm. Running costs are up to 30 per cent lower, with less vibration.
In other areas, the tractor resembles its diesel-powered equivalent, but the key change is the replacement of the fuel tanks with a combination of 10 tanks arranged around the centre of the chassis. The front-mounted ‘range extender’ unit can be replaced with a front linkage and PTO if required or removed for loader work. With 453 litres of gas capacity, equating to 79kgs, the tractor holds sufficient fuel for around eight hours of road haulage or PTO work, rising to 14 hours for operating something like a cattle feeder.
“What surprises customers is the power and the torque that is the same as the diesel. Refuelling is simple, and very similar to the process of filling an CNG-powered car or truck,” says Mark Howell, Global Product Manager Alternative Fuel at New Holland. “It takes no longer than refuelling a conventional tractor’s diesel tank, and is a cleaner process with no chance of spillages.
“The benefit of methane as a fuel is that it can create a circular energy system. When burned in controlled circumstances in an engine like that in the T6.180 Methane Power, the by-products are carbon dioxide and water. When you consider the CO2 released in creating the fuel, not only do our customer benefit from the 11 per cent CO2 saving for the exhaust pipe but they can also benefit from the source of the fuel.
“When using methane produced from a biogas plant with a mixture of waste and crops customers can achieve carbon neutral, but when the methane is collected directly from a slurry lagoon, not only are the methane emissions being stopped from escaping into the atmosphere it is being used instead of a fossil fuel bringing a double benefit in CO2 savings.
“Farms can become not just food producers, but fuel sources too, and methane-fuelled tractors are the enablers for this circular process. Waste products such as livestock manures suddenly become valuable fuel sources. Methane is cleaner to handle when refuelling and during combustion in the engine. It is a fuel readily available and this allows our customers to start the move to lower their CO2 today rather than waiting for other fuels that may or may not come in the future.”
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