Under the ‘Steyr’ brand, CNH Global N.V., a worldwide manufacturer of agricultural and construction machinery majority-owned by Fiat S.p.A., has presented what it says is the first production tractor powered by natural gas, at the recent Agritechnica 2011 exhibition. Based on the Profi 6125 model, the new Steyr Profi 4135 Natural Power is equipped with a turbocharged dedicated (mono-fuel) compressed natural gas (CNG) engine, made by Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT), another Fiat group company.

The engine is a 3.0 litre, four-cylinder unit, producing 100 kW/136 hp rated – 105 kW/143 hp max power and a maximum torque of 542 Nm at transmission input shaft.

The Profi 4135 Natural Power is equipped with special mono-fuel engine to deliver energy efficiency and clean exhaust emissions. Steyr says there are several arguments in favour of using monovalent natural gas tractors for agricultural purposes. In addition to much lower operating costs, there are also the favourable environmental aspects to take into consideration. Methane has the lowest carbon content of any fuels, it burns odour-free and with far fewer emissions –particulates are as much as 99 % lower. As the tractor can be powered using refined biogas (biomethane), Steyr engineers point out that this kind of drive concept is particularly suited to those farms that have their own biogas plants.

“Natural gas, or biogas, is in many ways the better choice for agricultural applications, as it produces 25 % lower CO2 emissions and 95 % less nitrous oxide when compared with diesel combustion,” explains Global Product Marketing Manager at Steyr for monovalent natural gas concepts.

“We believe there will be a number of potential applications in future for this clean engine technology; in the municipal sector, for example, and for agricultural operations that have a biogas plant and can use ‘fuel from field’ to power a vehicle fleet”.

The storage of gas, divided in nine fuel tanks, has a capacity of 300 liters in total, which are integrated into the tractor’s bodywork.

The tractor is fitted with a 17 x 16 four-range powershift transmission and has a top speed of 50 kph.

Market launch is scheduled for the 2015.

The predecessor to the Profi 4135, the CVT 6195, was developed as a dual-fuel tractor, reducing diesel costs by approximately 40% and CO2 emissions by 20%.

(This article compiled using information from Steyr press releases)