Europe's largest vertically integrated organic food producer, the Lithuania-based AUGA group, has introduced the world's first hybrid biomethane and electric tractor for professional farm use.
It has been christened the AUGA M1. Until now, sustainable fuel tractors available on the market have not been suitable for large-scale farm work.
This is the company's first step in offering technological solutions that will help eliminate climate pollution throughout the food supply chain and foster sustainable agriculture.
The new tractor solves two main obstacles that have so far hindered the prevalence of biomethane-powered tractors - the inefficient refuelling process and underdeveloped refuelling station infrastructure.
The latter was solved by offering quick and convenient gas cartridge replacement.
AUGA CEO, Kestutis Juscius, explained the changes in the refuelling process:
"Our team of engineers has found solutions to solve the problem of refuelling and ensure uninterrupted operation of the tractor throughout the working day.
“Currently, biomethane-powered tractors are able to operate for only two to four hours because the gas cylinders do not physically fit into the tractor structure.
“However, farmers need agricultural machinery that can 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.
It 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 spin 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 is able to extract tremendous power when needed.
These solutions allow the tractor to work for up to 12 hours.
Auga M1 specification
The Auga Group M1 Eco Tractor is 6m long and 4m high. It has a maximum speed of 12km/hr maximum, while delivering an output equivalent to that of a 400hp diesel tractor.
The M1 is zero-rated, from a carbon dioxide emissions’ perspective, over a 12-hour day.
Juscius continued: “Our invention makes it possible to create a wide range of tractor applications and makes it accessible to all farmers who want to work sustainably.
“We are not developing technology just to solve our 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.”
According to Juscius, the choice of biomethane as an alternative fuel was not accidental, as it is one of the greenest types of biofuel.
Methane, collected from livestock waste and converted to biomethane, offsets more emissions per unit of energy in its production and use cycle, than it emits.
The AUGA group is one of the largest vertically integrated organic food companies in Europe.