The Fendt e100 Vario is the first practical, battery-powered tractor that can be used in most day-to-day yard operations without having to be recharged multiple times each day, or so claims the German manufacturer.
The e100 Vario is an all-electric compact tractor with a power output of 50kW (circa 67hp). It can apparently operate for up to five continuous hours under “real, actual” conditions.
The energy source is a 650V lithium-ion battery with a capacity of around 100kWh.
The battery is charged either with 400V and up to 22kW via a CEE outdoor socket, or by a supercharging option. With a CCS Type 2 plug, the battery can supposedly be recharged up to 80% in just 40 minutes.
Fendt says that its e100 Vario is compatible with conventional as well as electrified implements. The tractor is fitted with two AEF-compliant power interfaces for electrical equipment. A short-term boost of up to 150kW for such implements can be provided by the battery.
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A standard PTO connection is also available, as well as the usual hydraulic supply (via remote spool valves) to implements.
“Precise control” of electrically-powered implements (which exist but are, as yet, relatively rare) is promised – thanks to the tractor’s own electrical drive system. The maximum torque for the PTO, for example, is available from a standing start. Safety, according to Fendt, is “assured” by an insulated design and ongoing electronic system monitoring.
A regulated, electrical heat pump performs the task of air conditioning the cab, as well as controlling the temperature of the battery and electronics.
HENRY FORD may have brought motoring to the masses in 1908 with the Model T, but his wife, Clara, preferred to drive an electric car. Combustion engines were noisy, dirty and in their early years required hand-cranking to start. Mrs Ford’s 1914 Detroit Electric, however, moved away instantly, was nearly silent and its speed was easy to control by pushing or pulling on a wooden rod that selected the required amount of power from a bank of nickel-iron batteries. Her car could travel for about 80 miles on a single charge and exceed speeds of 20mph.
Mr Ford’s mass-production techniques soon cut a Model T’s price to $500—one seventh that of Mrs Ford’s car. As refuelling stations spread, the internal-combustion engine went on to conquer all. Now electric cars are cruising back, as performance improves and costs fall. Tesla’s new Model 3, for instance, reaches 140mph and its lightweight lithium-ion battery has enough juice for 300 miles. But it is not just better and cheaper batteries that are changing the economics of electrification. Electric motors are getting better, too.
This matters because electric motors are everywhere. The International Energy Agency reckons they consume more than 40% of global electricity production, twice as much as lighting, the next largest user. Electric motors power running machines in gyms and baggage-handling systems in airports; they run air-conditioning in homes, lifts in offices and robots in factories. In the future, besides electric cars, they will increasingly take to the sea in ships and start propelling aircraft.
Enter the black box
At the moment, many electric motors are still run at a constant pace, relying on mechanical systems such as gears to step that up or down to provide whatever speed is wanted by the widget to which they are attached. That is wasteful, and engineers are working to improve things. In electric cars, for instance, the job done by gears (or the wooden stick in Mrs Ford’s ride) is already performed by a box of electronics. This is increasingly true of non-car motors, too.
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A modern electric motor and its associated drive system can produce the same amount of power as one from 1910, but in a package that is a fifth the size, says Andrew Peters, who runs Siemens’s drive factory in Congleton, in the north-west of England. The latest designs are extremely efficient: some big electric motors can now turn 97-98% of the electricity put into them into mechanical energy. Even the best internal-combustion engines can manage only about 45%. Small gains in efficiency mean big savings in cost, says Mr Peters. The cost of an electric motor and its drive represents just 1-1.5% of the cost of the electricity it will consume over a 20-to-25-year operating lifetime.
Much of the efficiency boost comes from highly precise modern manufacturing techniques, as well as advances in materials science. Electric motors waste energy mostly in the form of heat generated in their windings, which are coils of copper wire wrapped around a metal core. Several such coils form the rotor, which is the part of the motor that turns, and which sits inside the stator, which does not.
TURNING unwanted electricals into concert tickets is the idea behind a tour that starts this weekend.
Make Noise Wales starts its tour in Blackwood this weekend with performances from Sweet Baboo, former Welsh Music Prize nominee H.Hawkline and one of Wales’ most exciting new acts Boy Azooga.
Entry is free for those who bring a piece of electrical recycling to hand in at the door. That could be a broken mobile phone, hairdryer or laptop - anything with a plug or a battery.
The first date takes place on Saturday at the Black Lion in Blackwood which will be the closing party for the Velvet Coalmine Festival. The evening will include live performances and a DJ set from the Heavenly Jukebox.
Make Noise started in 2010 and is a partnership between European Recycling Platform (ERP) and Heavenly Recordings, the project has toured the country promoting the importance of recycling WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) to 18-25 year olds with help from the UK’s top DJs and producers.
All the events are due to a local authority regional WEEE recycling contract that ERP UK deliver for nine Welsh local authorities. This contract is part of a collaborative arrangement under the South Wales Waste Management Group co-ordinated by Resource Efficiency Wales Ltd.
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James Kay, regional waste co-ordinator for REW Ltd said: “Many broken electrical items get put in the bin when they can be recycled by local authorities at local collection points such as Household Waste Recycling Centres.
“You can bring along any electrical item smaller than a microwave, or that has a plug or battery in it and get free entry to the Make Noise Wales 2017 gigs. If you want to bring along more than one item, please feel free to do so. Last year almost 500kg of small electrical items were collected for recycling at the gigs.”