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John Deere is one of the most trusted names in tractors. This makes turning one into an ammonia-burning, alt-fuel spearhead quite smart. If anyone can convince tractor customers to support a much-needed replacement fuel in place of petroleum, it’s John Deere. But as will most innovations, this John Deere was built by a third party. In this case, this tractor was built by Brooklyn-based alt-fuel startup, Amogy. More notably, this is the world’s first ammonia-powered tractor.

A custom Ammonia-powered John Deere
Ammonia-powered John Deere | Amogy

Can tractors run on pee? 

Unfortunately, urine isn’t a viable alternative fuel. However, the ammonia in urine might be. Alternative fuels are one of the most important research areas in our world. Amogy is experimenting with using ammonia and just completely the first-ever ammonia-powered tractor.

Ammonia is the focus right now, but Amogy, and other companies like it, are experimenting with methane power and electricity for tractors. 

What makes these alt fuels so potentially valuable is two-fold: First of all, artificial fuels would mean a truly renewable fuel. Second of all, some of these alt fuels like methane cut tractor emissions by as much as 80 percent. 

Is this ammonia-powered tractor for real? 

Ammonia-powered John Deere
Ammonia-powered John Deere profile | Amogy

Despite this being the first ammonia-powered tractor, we have seen ammonia used as fuel in the shipping and aviation industries. Although ammonia has plenty of potential, there is still plenty of debate on how best to extract useable fuel. 

According to New Atlas, Amogy feels its experimental tech is perfectly poised to take advantage of ammonia as a power source. The system powering the John Deere starts with a tank to store liquid ammonia. The liquid is fed into “highly-efficient” cracking modules that separate the nitrogen from the hydrogen. The separated hydrogen is what the tractor actually uses as fuel. Amogy says its system can power the tractor for hours at a time. 

To bring into a more familiar space for comparison, Amogy says that its fuel system “offers five times the system-level energy density of a lithium-ion battery, at more than 700 Wh/kg.” 

How is the tractor working? 

New Atlas reports that the tractor was taken on several excursions with refueling in between, which Amogy notes is as fast and simple as refueling of a conventional vehicle. 

“We’re thrilled to be demonstrating our zero-emission ammonia power solution in action in a tractor for the first time ever,” said Amogy CEO Seonghoon Woo. “Ammonia is a viable zero-emission fuel for all heavy-duty vehicles, but especially farming and agriculture, where the readily available chemical has been used as a fertilizer for decades.”

Ammonia could actually be a viable alternative fuel

Amogy claims that based on massive technological advancements over the years, ammonia power output has seen a 20-fold increase in their system. The company sees this as a real chance to lower carbon dioxide emissions significantly by switching heavy equipment to carbon-neutral fuels. 

“As we continue our work to lead innovations in ammonia-based fuel solutions, the Amogy team believes this demonstration and future ones, including Class-eight trucks and shipping vessels to be demonstrated in the next 12 months, will accelerate the adoption of ammonia as the next generation fuel to replace polluting diesel engines with an emission-free solution among transportation industry sectors and investment partners,” said Woo.


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