Last year a prototype of the T6.180 Methane Power tractor was put to work on a British farm, with manufacturer New Holland hoping to demonstrate the benefits that this eco-friendly fuel can bring to the table. Now the firm is setting out to make this model available to a mainstream audience, showcasing it during the SIMA 2017 show earlier this month in Paris, according to New Atlas.
Methane is just one of the fuels which are currently jockeying for position as manufacturers seek to solve the sustainability issues which currently afflict diesel-powered agricultural machines. And so this specially adapted T6 series tractor needs to see off competition from similar CNG, hydrogen fuel cell and full electric rivals which are also being developed at the moment.
The engine at the heart of the T6.180 is built to work in conjunction with methane gas, which is stored in a compressed form in nine tanks that are built into the body of the tractor. The way that these tanks are organised means that this model offers identical physical properties compared with an equivalent diesel tractor, so there are no compromises on things like ground clearance or operating weight.
If the tractor is needed to complete a full day's work, it will need to stop about half way through in order to refuel. But unlike other sustainable machines which are powered by batteries, the process of replenishing the tanks with fresh methane is quick, taking a matter of minutes rather than hours.
New Holland has built the T6.180 Methane Power not only to comply with current regulations governing emissions but also to meet or exceed the stricter rules which are scheduled to be introduced in the coming years.
Further good news is that this tractor need not be solely supplied with methane delivered to the farm from elsewhere but can also be powered by natural gases created and collected directly on the site. So in terms of reducing the carbon footprint of farm machinery and also lowering running costs, it is an especially well-optimised choice.
A Key Part of Tackling Emissions
Speaking during SIMA 2017, New Holland representative Carlo Lambro said that the T6.180 was a key part of the firm's ongoing project to cut emissions and improve efficiency in the farm machinery marketplace. He said that CNGs are the most desirable fuel source in terms of eco-friendliness and performance potential at the moment; hence why this particular tractor and some of its precursors make use of them.
The T6.180 is fully equipped to tackle all sorts of common tasks on farms of many kinds, from hauling heavy trailers to powering equipment and attachments during planting and harvest seasons. And the act of bringing it to trade shows is one which is intended to raise awareness about the alternative fuels that are soon set to reshape expectations.
Of course, for many farmers the infrastructure changes that need to be made in order to support this type of tractor as a viable investment have yet to be made, meaning diesel-powered machinery remains the first choice when buying used equipment.