New Holland has been busily backing methane in the race for alternative fuels and it has just upped its stake by taking a majority interest in Bennamann, a company specialising in methane capture.

Although using methane produced by a dairy herd makes perfect sense on paper, the tricky part is capturing the gas before cleaning and compressing it ready for storage and eventual use.

Fugitive methane captured

Bennamann, which is based in Cornwall, was founded in 2011 and the company has devoted itself to creating what it describes as the Bennamann cycle, a circular economy model which reclaims what it describes as fugitive methane from cattle and uses it to power machinery.

In its quest for establishing methane as an alternative fuel, New Holland has gone to some lengths to adapt tractors to the gas, the principle problem being one of storing it.

Methane Bennaman New Holland
The methane ecosystem as planned by Bennamann

Clumsy cylinders bolted to wherever there might be a spare patch of real estate on the cab or frame does not reassure the customer that they have the problem solved. Liquifying it so that it might be stored in a tank of conventional shape is a significant step forward.

Yet that does not address the problem of methane capture at farm level, an issue which was not going to be fully addressed without the resources that a large corporation can put into developing it.

Backing the Bennamann vision

New Holland has just shouldered this responsibility, it may well be seen as a necessity, for if it didn’t come up with a way of harvesting the gas then methane power would likely whither on the vine.

However, New Holland’s statement does not confine itself to the prospect of powering tractors from cow farts. It goes on to stress the role that methane might play in generating electricity and heating homes.

Yet, however it is used, the need to recover and purify it remains, and by taking a controlling interest in a company dedicated to creating a methane ecosystem, New Holland has demonstrated a commitment to recycling carbon, rather than simply abandoning its use as an energy management tool.