Monmouthshire-based international racing star Vanessa Ruck takes a detour from her usual two-wheel adventures to explore the future of alternative fuels in the motorcycle world. In her recent video, Vanessa introduces a methane-powered tractor, pondering its implications for sustainable motorcycling.
Known for her daring exploits on motorcycles, Vanessa Ruck, also known as "The Girl On A Bike," recently focused her lens on a New Holland T6 tractor. But this isn't your ordinary tractor. "This is a methane-powered tractor, it is the first of its kind in the world," Vanessa said. What makes this tractor extraordinary is that it runs on methane produced from agricultural waste, specifically, poop.
Vanessa dives into the mechanics of how this tractor could signal a shift in our approach to fuels. "What if we can capture [methane] and use it in our transportation industry?" she asks. New Holland is doing precisely that, capturing methane from farms to power their tractors. "One of the biggest waste byproduct negatives in the agricultural industry is suddenly becoming a fuel to power it," Vanessa adds.
The tractor operates with the same brake horsepower as its diesel counterparts and uses the same Michelin tyres. Vanessa dismisses concerns over performance limitations. "The power, the performance, the output argument—out the window," she said. Vanessa also noted that refuelling a methane tractor is faster than a diesel one, putting to rest the "range anxiety" commonly associated with alternative fuels.
The methane model costs about £10,000 more than its diesel variant. But the long-term savings could be significant. "You're going to save about twenty thousand pounds," Vanessa quoted from YouTube tractor expert Lord Mark, explaining that the tractor would pay for itself in about 4,500 engine hours.
Vanessa didn't ignore the potential limitations. The tractor's fuel availability decreases as you go up in horsepower, and the methane has to be nearly 95 per cent pure to be effective. But she concluded on a hopeful note. "There are still things in my head that's making me wonder, could that have negative side effects as well. But I do know quite comfortably that we have methane floating around all over the place in our agricultural industry, and this seems like a really sensible way to utilise it," she said.
While Vanessa is a fan of electric vehicles, she's not entirely convinced that they represent the future of transportation. "My gut tells me we haven't necessarily found the future fuel yet," she stated. In her view, methane, a byproduct of the very system that feeds us, could be a viable alternative for the motorbike industry and beyond.