Lithuanian company AUGA Group, Europe’s largest vertically integrated organic food producer, has developed the world’s first hybrid biomethane and electric tractor for farm use.
The AUGA M1 represents the firm’s first step in offering technological solutions that will eliminate climate pollution throughout the food supply chain, from field to table, and enable food to be produced ‘at no cost to nature’.
Agricultural activity is responsible for almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas pollution in the world, AUGA noted. A large part of the emissions is due to the use of fossil fuels in agricultural machinery.
“Three years ago, when we calculated our emissions, we saw that as much as 30% of them come from the use of fossil fuels on farms,” said Kęstutis Juščius, AUGA’s CEO. “There were simply no solutions to change it.”
According to Juščius, the decision to choose biomethane was not accidental – it is one of the greenest types of biofuel. Methane, collected from livestock waste and converted into biomethane, offsets more emissions per unit of energy in its production and use cycle than it emits, Juščius said.
“Our invention makes it possible to create a wide range of tractor applications and make it accessible to all farmers who want to work sustainably, he added.
“We are not developing technology just to solve own emissions and deliver on the promise of becoming a CO2-neutral company by 2030. Our goal is bigger – we will strive to make this tractor and other technologies that are still being developed available to farmers all over the world and help solve the global problem of pollution in the agricultural sector.”
Engineers working on the tractor solved the issue of refuelling and ensured the uninterrupted operation of the tractor throughout the working day.
“Currently, biomethane-powered tractors are only able to operate for 2-4 hours because the gas cylinders do not physically fit into the tractor structure. However, farmers need agricultural machinery to work for 12 hours or more. AUGA Group understands this perfectly and has created a solution.”
The company’s patented design allows the tractor to accommodate larger biomethane gas cylinders. The AUGA M1 tractor uses a hybrid biomethane-electric fuel system. When the tractor is running, an internal combustion engine powered by biomethane generates energy and transmits it directly to the electric motors that turn the wheels.
When operating under normal conditions that do not require high power, the tractor stores the generated energy reserve in the batteries. Such a system does not waste energy in low load conditions, uses a relatively small but efficient motor, and can extract ‘tremendous power’ when needed, allowing the tractor to work for up to 12 hours.