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Case 24.11.2020

AGCO Power: The research project enables biomethane fuel use in agricultural machinery – less emissions, new export opportunities

Promising results from the METER research project, led by engine manufacturer AGCO Power and supported by Business Finland, are accelerating electrification and the adoption of alternative fuels in the agricultural machinery industry. Biomethane, a harmful greenhouse gas, is produced as a by-product of agriculture and livestock farms. Burning biomethane in the machines' engines can significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels as well as total emissions from farms.
AGCO Power
  • AGCO Power (formerly Sisu Diesel) manufactures engines for tractors, combine harvesters and mobile machinery,  a part of the AGCO Group
  • AGCO Power has made industry leading engines and power generation solutions for over 75 years.
  • Number of staff: 740

R&D Director Kari Aaltonen at AGCO Power's renovated plant.

"We are a traditional diesel engine plant, but emissions legislation has directly guided our work for the past 20 years. The research project will help us to support our customers' product offerings so that they can provide biomethane-using tractors and machinery in the future. Emissions legislation will definitely tighten, so we want to be prepared for it", says Kari Aaltonen, R&D Director at AGCO Power.

AGCO Power (formerly Sisu Diesel) manufactures engines for Valtra, Fendt and Massey-Ferguson tractors, among others. It is part of the AGCO Group, a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural equipment. The METER project lasted over two years and ended in summer 2020. The research partners were VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Aalto University, Valmet Automotive, Milcon, Akkurate and Bitwise.

New solutions to combat global warming

The research project developed AGCO Power's first concept engine that uses natural gas or biogas as fuel, which mainly met the current emission standards. In a second research strand, called eTurbo, a turbocharger was combined with an electric motor-generator, leading to the development of a 48 volt mild hybrid system aimed for agricultural machinery.

"The eTurbo project was also a success. The eTurbo delivers more power and better engine performance. At the same time, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced. The aim is to beat all the required emission standards and to reduce fuel consumption as much as possible", Aaltonen explains.

A gas engine in VTT's laboratory tests.

Aiming for serial production and new exports

Based on the research, AGCO is currently building biomethane-powered test vehicles for field testing.

"The industry has tough demands on product durability, lifespan and emissions, so we still have to conduct a wide range of tests before we can deliver a powertrain to a customer. However, we are seriously aiming for serial production. Biomethane use will increase and, in the future, we will have an engine for agricultural machines and tractors that can use it as fuel", says Aaltonen.

Agility and speed are crucial to deploying and bringing new technologies to market. According to Aaltonen, there is now an excellent opportunity in Finland to invest in an industry with strong future growth potential.

"We have many competitive advantages. Finland is self-sufficient in biomethane, and we can do a lot around it. There is a high level of expertise related to the required gas control technology, techniques and software. Together, we can develop this export potential for Finland while also helping the climate and creating employment."

Business Finland enables new business

AGCO's cooperation with Business Finland started already in the 1990s. The previous research projects were also successful.

"Business Finland aims to create a knowledge base with these projects, preferably in a way that it also spreads beyond the big company into research and to the smaller companies. This know-how then provides the base for the actual development projects that lead to new products and bring export revenues to Finland",  says Matti Säynätjoki, Senior Advisor at Business Finland.

"In the METER project, there was a close and very practical collaboration between the researchers and companies. This also involved a lot of information exchange and design work, such as planning experimental activities related to the engines. It's always interesting to see how companies move forward with the projects that we support. These projects are destined for new business, not the office drawer."

METER project final summary

Further information

Kari Aaltonen
kari.aaltonen (at) AGCOcorp.com
Tel +358 40 846 7003

Matti Säynätjoki
matti.saynatjoki (at) businessfinland.fi
Tel. +358 50 5577 899

Photos: Valokuvaamo KLIK and  AGCO Power