Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) has developed a modern propane-fueled John Deere 5410 tractor through funding provided by the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) and the Texas Alternative Fuels Council with support from the John Deere Product Engineering Center. The project began in June 2001 and the tractor was completed in March 2002. The results from this development were published in SAE paper Number 2003-01-1923 titled: “Development of a Clean, Efficient, Propane-fueled Tractor” and presented at the 2003 JSAE/SAE International Spring Fuels and Lubricants meeting in Yokohama, Japan. This paper presents the second phase results from the tractor demonstration in a field test environment.
The original project objective was to develop an efficient propane-fueled engine capable of achieving the EPA Tier 3 emissions standards and to incorporate this engine into an agricultural tractor as an alternative to diesel-powered equipment. Use of diesel powered equipment contributes to ozone formation and particulate matter emissions, both air quality concerns. Large numbers of tractors of this size are used in both rural and urban settings for such tasks as mowing, right of way maintenance, etc.
Following the completion of development, a follow-on project was pursued to demonstrate the tractor in realistic field conditions. The prototype tractor was operated and monitored at one of John Deere’s primary test locations in Riverdale, California. A total operating time accumulation of 650 hours was reached, operating under a variety of test cycles. Data was collected during this testing, and a complete engine teardown was performed upon test completion. The data analysis and inspection revealed no major concerns related to robust operation. This paper describes the testing procedures, analysis, results, and duty cycle evaluation following the demonstration testing. The prototype propane tractor is shown in Figure 1.