Over the past couple of years, Valtra has been testing its N101 Dual Fuel tractor in Sweden. The biogas tractor has attracted a lot of interest among Swedes, including the Minister for Rural Affairs, Eskil Erlandsson, who has been very active in seeking type approval for vehicles powered by environmentally friendly dual fuel technology.
A cut in fuel costs by around one third
The Valtra N101 Dual Fuel tractor has undergone testing in locations throughout Sweden. Zerny Johansson and Dan Nilson, who work for the City of Kristianstad, found the biogas tractor to be even more powerful than their standard N101 model. According to Zerny and Dan, the test tractor would run for 6 to 7 hours on biogas, even when fitted with a grapple loader and trailer.
Johan Franzen, a contractor and farmer in Linköping, used the Valtra N101 Dual Fuel tractor for snowploughing, sanding roads and transporting timber. Johan’s experiences with the biogas tractor have been completely positive. When driven on biogas, the tractor felt like it had even more torque and power than when driven on diesel alone. Fuel economy also improved significantly, cutting fuel costs in January alone by around one third.
Martin Knutsson runs a major biogas plant with his father in Vram Gunnarstorp. Martin tested the biogas tractor with a front-loader and did not notice any significant differences to his previous N101 running purely on diesel. The biogas tractor had to be refuelled every other day when used for three hours a day.
Towards a cleaner future
Scania, the southernmost province of Sweden, already has several dozen biogas stations, and more are being opened all the time. Malmö, the largest city in the province with a population of over 300 thousand, has set itself the target of having 75 percent of its vehicle fleet running on biogas by 2015.
The Valtra N101 Dual Fuel tractor supports Scania’s strategy well, as biogas production potential is ten times current consumption. Decentralised energy production also improves self-sufficiency and security of supply and with Valtra tractors running on biogas, it means the tractors can be operated on 100-percent renewable energy with biogas and biodiesel. One of the end products of biogasification is nitrogen and phosphorus containing slurry, an ideal fertiliser for growing new biomas for local gas reactors.
Methane + Diesel = Dual Fuel
Biogas is primarily methane an ideal diesel engine fuel. However, since methane does not combust by itself, even under high pressure, a small amount of diesel is used to start combustion – hence the name Dual Fuel.
One of the advantages of Dual Fuel systems is that the tractor engine will automatically continue to run on diesel should it run out of biogas.
Biogas tractors make a lot of sense, especially considering the environment in which tractors are used. The manure produced by livestock farms contains large amounts of methane, as does the biomass waste of crop farms. Similarly, property maintenance services are required in areas where a lot of municipal waste is created.
Kjell Christensen, Project Manager at Biogas Syd, is convinced that carbon dioxide emissions are reduced significantly when vehicles run on biogas. Fossil fuels are not required, and the methane contained in biomass is not released into the atmosphere. In fact, it has been calculated that the carbon footprint is reduced by as much as 180 percent!