Biomethane Tractor Makes Agriculture Greener
Erin Green posted on October 27, 2015 |

Imagine a farm that literally powers itself. That’s the idea behind the “Energy Independent Farm” concept.

The showpiece is the T6 Methane Power tractor, a prototype based on New Holland Agriculture’s T6 tractor.

The T6 Methane Power tractor, on display at Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy, is part of a sustainable farm concept.

The T6: Harnessing Methane Power

The Methane Power tractor is nearly indistinguishable from its regular diesel-powered counterpart. The main difference is under the hood. The tractor sports a four cylinder, three-liter engine designed to run on compressed methane, also known as natural gas.
The T6 Methane Power tractor features nine hidden tanks for storing compressed methane, its fuel source. (Image courtesy of New Holland Agriculture.)

The T6 Methane Power tractor features nine hidden tanks for storing compressed methane, its fuel source. (Image courtesy of New Holland Agriculture.)

The engine, manufactured by FPT Industrial, is designed to combust the methane fuel completely. Therefore, only carbon dioxide and water vapor should be produced at the exhaust. 

All things considered, this methane propulsion technology provides a much lower emissions footprint than a typical diesel tractor.

What the T6 Means for Agriculture

The T6 Methane Power tractor provides a viable alternative to the use of diesel equipment for the agriculture industry. Natural gas as a fuel is much more affordable than diesel and produces fewer harmful emissions.

However, the true impact of methane-powered tractor technology shows when it is compounded with New Holland parent company CNH Industrial’s other big plans for a sustainable future.

The Prototype Sustainable Farm

The T6 Methane Power tractor, on display at Expo 2015 as part of its “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” theme, is the first stage prototype developed by New Holland.

The T6 is currently undergoing real-world testing at the sustainable farm prototype at La Bellotta farm in Italy. (Image courtesy of New Holland Agriculture.)

The T6 is currently undergoing real-world testing at the sustainable farm prototype at La Bellotta farm in Italy. (Image courtesy of New Holland Agriculture.)

The second stage prototype is undergoing its field tests as part of a sustainable farm prototype at La Bellotta farm in Venaria, Italy.

The farm has been outfitted with a biogas digester to enable the production of fuel by processing on-site waste.

Early stage corn and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye) are harvested at wax maturity stage and husks and stalks are fed into the digester along with manure to create biogas through anaerobic digestion. By-products are then used as fertilizer on the fields.

Additionally, the heat produced by the digester can be collected to generate electricity, which can either be used on the farm or sent back to the grid.

The farm is also capable of refining its biogas into biomethane, also called renewable natural gas (RNG). The T6 Methane Power tractor can burn this fuel and will expel water vapor and carbon dioxide as exhaust, greatly reducing the farm’s carbon footprint.

If this technology were to become widespread with a majority of farms generating their own alternative fuels, it could be a devastating blow to the oil industry.

For more information, visit the New Holland Agriculture website.

What do you think? Will we soon see the end of diesel use in the agriculture industry?

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