Blue World in collaboration with AGCO Power on electric Fendt tractor to run on methanol

Source: 11/7/2023, Location: Europe

In collaboration, AGCO Power, a global leader in sustainable powertrain technologies for agricultural machinery, and fuel cell developer and manufacturer, Blue World Technologies, have developed the fuel-cell-based Fendt e100 Vario Range Extender Concept that will double the operation time of the existing Fendt e100 V Vario electric tractor. Prototypes have been constructed and lab field tests have been carried out with very good early success. The Range Extender Concept runs on liquid methanol which is converted into a hydrogen-rich gas that powers the fuel cells. The fuel cells generate electricity that charges the tractor batteries while in operation.

Globally, agriculture is responsible for around 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which includes emissions related to machines used in production. With the need for continuous operation, the industry cannot rely solely on direct electrification and battery technology in the transition toward green energy. With high electrical efficiency, the high-temperature PEM fuel cell technology running on methanol can ensure long operation time and fast refueling similar to fueling with conventional liquid fuels like diesel.

"With AGCO Corporation as one of the world’s leading agricultural machinery manufacturers, we have a partner who shares our vision of green propulsion solutions. A liquid fuel such as methanol enables farmers to work flexibly and, above all, sustainable", says Mads Friis Jensen, Chief Commercial Officer and Co-Founder of Blue World Technologies.

"Agriculture is currently going through a transformation and is looking for a new propulsion solution that can be aligned with climate protection. Green methanol is a suitable candidate and due to its liquid nature, it is possible to store it in a tank much like diesel fuel. This means storing it does not require the same complex arrangements as storing hydrogen, for example. The high electrical efficiency of the Blue World fuel cells makes it ideal to combine with methanol" explains Kari Aaltonen, Director of Engineering at AGCO Power.

A multi-purpose technology platform
The agricultural industry is a promising sector with excessive deployment potential for Blue World Technologies' methanol fuel cell technology, but the fuel cell platform also has great potential within other industries, e.g., heavy-duty transport, material handling, construction, and other on- and off-road application transforming from conventional diesel-powered engines to green energy.

Using standard components such as methanol reformers and fuel cell stacks, the platform can be tailor-made to fit the desired application and the required power demand.

The Blue World methanol fuel cell multi-purpose platform:
Address aspects of the green transition that cannot be solved by direct electrification and battery technology alone.
The fuel cell platform converts methanol to electricity.
Each fuel cell stack typically contains 90 to 160 cells, providing 5 to 20 kW.
Several fuel cell stacks can be coupled to meet the required power demand.
The fuel cells are based on high-temperature (HT) PEM technology (operating at 160-180°C) that has a high resistance to impurities making the combination with methanol reforming ideal.
Unlike low-temperature (LT) PEM fuel cells, the HT PEM technology allows for a PFAS independent production as the HT PEM fuel cell membrane is not based on poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Unique for the HT PEM fuel cells is the potential for waste heat utilisation where part of the waste heat from the fuel cell is used to drive the process of reforming methanol and thereby optimising the total system efficiency. Furthermore, waste heat can also be used for additional energy recovery.
The fuel cell platform has a high electrical efficiency of 40 to 60% depending on load.
When powered by renewable methanol, the Blue World platform has a net-zero operation.

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