Allis-Chalmers Fuel-Cell Tractor
No heat, no smoke, no noise
Departing from the lightweight 80 horsepower IH HT 340 above, this 20 horsepower tractor weighed 5270 pounds, and certainly required no supplementary weight. Here was power of a completely different type. The AC fuel cell tractor used an AC D-12 tractor chassis loaded with 1008 individual fuel cells, fueled by a mixture of gasses, but predominantly propane, which in turn created a current flow. This was channeled through to an Allis Chalmers 20 hp DC electric motor to propel the tractor. Each fuel cell was about one quarter of an inch thick, 12 inches square, and produced approximately one volt of output. In unison, the 1008 fuel cells made an output of about 15KW.
Unconventional, to say the least!Using the controller at the operator’s left, the four banks of fuel cells could be connected in series or in parallel, thus varying the voltage reaching the DC motor, much like a throttle. Reverse was simply a matter of reversing the polarity of the current through the controller with the crank-like handle. AC was excited by their research, noting that their tractor was twice as efficient as others of the period, the power was derived from no moving parts, it produced no emissions, and ‘ran without a whisper’. Futuristic indeed, and the recent resurgence in interest in fuel cell technology, along with environmental concerns, could still make a fuel cell tractor a reality. This tractor is now in the Smithsonian Institute.