Invention Enables Tractor to Run on Diesel/Fertilizer Blend

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) have invented a method by which farm tractors are able to run on a mixture of diesel fuel and anhydrous ammonia.

UMM researchers used a 70/30 blend of diesel and fertilizer. They hope the blend, combined with enhancements in technology, can help cut down farm equipment emissions by as much as 50 percent.

Funded by a grant from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, the project is part of a larger focus at UMM to reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint in the state. Research also is being conducted to source the tractor’s ammonia from wind energy, making it cost almost nothing in terms of greenhouse gases.

Will Northrop, one of the inventors of the method, said it is “well along the path to commercialization.”

“I think that within a year or so, we could have a commercial system on the market if there was a good opportunity to sell it,” Northrop said.

Northrop, with UMM graduate student Seamus Kane, created a catalytic converter that absorbs heat waste from the tractor’s engine to begin the chemical reaction that turns ammonia into hydrogen, the actual fuel used to operate the tractor.

Source: Minnesota Public Radio