Dutch Student Modified His Motorcycle to Run on Methane From a Pond
A Dutch inventor and engineering student, Gijs Schalkx, modified his motorcycle to run on methane, which he has to laboriously harvest from roadside bogs and ponds, a report by Vice explains.
The Sloot Motor, which Schalkx says was "built to outlast any kind of energy future as shallow waters will always be there", was designed using a converted Honda GX160 motorcycle engine.
According to Schalkx's website, he drilled a hole into the engine's airbox, allowing it to receive methane. A balloon is then hooked to the hole, which feeds the engine with the collected methane.
The Sloot Motor (Sloot is the Dutch word for "ditch") wasn't built as a convenient alternative to electric or internal combustion motorcycles — it only reaches a top speed of 27 mph (43 km/h). Instead, the concept was designed in order to encourage observers to reconsider their relationship with technologies.
"If this world we live in is the cause for global breakdown, over-extraction of resources and inequality all over the world, why do we keep holding on to this idea of progress by growth?" Schalkx said on his website. "A goal that we are blindly following without thinking about the consequences and counting on technology to save us."
Methane motorcycle makes you work for your miles
Collecting the methane necessary for a ride is a laborious act, which requires a device designed by Schalkx called a 'Plompstation'.
The Plompstation uses an upturned container to gradually collect methane, which is naturally produced via natural decomposition in ponds and bogs. A pressure pump allows the user to pump the methane to a fuel container.
According to Schalkx, it takes approximately eight hours of hoeing the bog to speed up the methane-collecting process to travel approximately 12 miles (20 kilometers) on the Sloot Motor.
It barely seems worth it, you might think. Still, on his website, Schalkx emphasizes that his motorcycle was built with necessity, not convenience in mind.
"Where we are going, speed is not desired. More speed means more horsepower, which means more CC’s, which results in higher fuel consumption," Schalkx says.
He also emphasizes the fact that "it is easy to find a little pond or ditch that will serve as source for fuel anywhere in the Netherlands."
Methane is, of course, an abundant, highly adaptable fuel source, as recently evidenced by a South Korean toilet that extracts the gas from human excrement in order to help power a student building.
What should be our response to the first contact with extraterrestrial civilizations? We speak to the scientists who analyzed current SETI approaches.