Claas is the latest company to approve hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) for its products, although it is already widely marketed as a direct drop in replacement for diesel fuel.

However, the company goes further in its latest bulletin, noting that while battery power may be suitable for lighter applications, an electrically powered Jaguar forage harvester would need to be twice the size and weight to provide the same power and range as the current diesel models.

Methane and hydrogen have issues

Keeping the diesel engine as the primary power source is seen as essential by the company. Dr. Martin von Hoyningen-Huene, who heads the tractor division, notes that “there are no real alternatives to the combustion engine for high-performance agricultural machines in the foreseeable future”

The company goes on to state that gaseous fuels such as methane or hydrogen also have significant disadvantages in terms of their energy density and thus their energy storage requirements.

Neste garage in Finland
Neste already supplies 20% of Finland’s diesel requirements in the form of HVO

It might also be added that the infrastructure for supply and storage of these materials is still a long way from being capable of supporting farming operations.

Patrick Ahlbrand, responsible for Claas Product Strategy, explains that Claas has remained open-minded with regard to alternative fuelling while appreciating that farming needs a readily available and cost-effective substitute for diesel sourced from mineral oil.

Claas sticks with diesel-type fuels

It would appear that, as for now, Claas has decided that there is no other viable or convenient method of supplying energy to a tractor hence the company’s full backing of HVO as fuel to help reduce carbon emissions.

Claas tractor mowing
Looking ahead Claas see little alternative to diesel-type fuels

From October 1, the company states that all tractors and harvesters leaving Le Mans will be fuelled at the factory with HVO and that Claas fully recognises it as a substitute for mineral-sourced diesel.

Claas is by no means the first company to recognise HVO as a straight drop in replacement for mineral-based diesel oil, indeed, it could be argued that it is rather late to the party, yet by doing so it adds to the growing recognition within the industry that diesel engines are here to stay for a good while yet.