Truly sustainable solution to transporting cattle

Truly sustainable solution to transporting cattle

Lateral thinking on the subject of transporting livestock has inspired Scania to make use of energy from a surprising source – the cattle themselves.

Tens of millions of head of cattle are transported by road every day, requiring the consumption of many millions of litres of fossil fuel.

But what if the methane that the animals produce while on the road could be captured and used to power the vehicles used to transport them?

Scania has taken this intriguing idea and used it to produce its new Mobile Gas Generation (MGG) system, a breakthrough technology that uses the methane generated in livestock transport to power Scania gas engines. “While it’s not viable for all forms of road transport, this technology could make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says Björn Dung, Head of Powertrain Development at Scania.

Huge potential

Scania sees huge potential for using the methane (CH4) generated by human activity to fuel its wide range of gas-powered engines. It is estimated that each cow annually releases between 70 and 120 kilograms of methane. According the climate experts, agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide, more than the entire transport sector.

Scania took these facts to heart and following extensive testing has developed the technology to capture methane and use it in its proven gas engine. The engine has through smart, but surprisingly simple, measures been adapted for using excess methane as fuel. The methane generated by the MGG system is stored in rooftop tanks and from here it is filtered through an intricate piping system and fed directly into the Otto gas engine’s injection system.

Results from trials suggest an energy efficiency of 49 percent, which is well in line with normal natural and biogas operations.

Safe for livestock

The specially designed livestock trailer used with the MGG technology has a closed ventilation system, with an exhaust system channelling methane to the tanks on the trailer roof. Unlike present-day livestock trailers, the space is insulated and wholly sealed. Large windows provide an adequately light and airy environment for the cattle.

A ventilation system ensures continuous air circulation and the intake of fresh air. “Initially, there were concerns over animal welfare, but these have been fully addressed,” says Dung.

Scania is increasingly seeking more sustainable solutions in transport and is presently piloting biogas-fuelled buses in Brazil and Colombia. In Brazil, the biogas is generated using farmland manure, making good use of waste products.

European pilot study

The MGG concept will initially be piloted in two, as yet to determined, European countries. Following a full-scale assessment, Scania is confident that this new product will be adopted by the livestock industry.

Read more about the livestock solution with technical facts on: newsroom.scania.com/methane