Vying with Germany's Agritechnica—which is held in alternate Novembers—for the title of Europe's biggest farm machinery show, France's SIMA is held every other February on the outskirts of Paris. Spanning seven indoor halls and playing host to more than 1,320 exhibitors from around the world, SIMA has a global reach that extends beyond French borders. A significant proportion of companies exhibiting machinery target the large-scale farms of the rapidly growing ag sectors of Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Russian states.
This year SIMA hosted the launch of a number of new ag products from international manufacturers. There was plenty to grab the interest of the more than 135,000 attendees, half of whom came from countries other than France. For extended coverage of the new machines unveiled at SIMA, visit www.MyMachinery.com and scroll to the News section.
One of the grandest product launches at SIMA 2009 was the NH2, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered tractor from New Holland. The manufacturer isn't the first farm machinery firm to develop a fuel cell tractor—as Allis-Chalmers aficionados will know—but the hydrogen-powered prototype, carrying the code name NH2, is the first to use this particular fuel.
Based on a T6000, the NH2 is a working proto-type. Under the tractor's hood, in place of a diesel engine, is a 100-liter tank that stores compressed hydrogen at 5,075 psi. That's enough for only two hours of average work on this particular machine. The current NH2 prototype boasts 106 hp, and engineers are hopeful that the next generation will have an increased work capacity of eight to nine hours before refueling is necessary.
Within the fuel cell, the hydrogen reacts with oxygen drawn in from an air intake, producing electrons and water. The electrons create an electric current to power the two key electric motors, one of which replaces the transmission while the other is used for external power, such as the PTO. Heat and water vapor are the only emissions from this process, and the heat emitted is substantial reduction compared with an internal combustion engine. Another noticeable difference is that when running the tractor is much quieter, in fact almost silent, compared with its diesel counterparts. The project incorporates technology from New Holland's parent company, Fiat, and its automotive division.
New Holland believes its new technology could be in production in as little as 10 to 15 years. The company foresees farmers generating their own electricity through renewable energy systems. For example, wind turbines could produce electricity that could be stored on-farm. Then, the hydrogen fuel cell tractor would draw from this on-farm power source, resulting in substantial environmental and financial benefits.