Student Invents Motorcycle That Runs on Swamp Gas

Gijs Schalkx, a Dutch inventor and engineering student, modified his motorcycle to run on methane harvested from roadside bogs and ponds.

Aptly named Sloot Motor (sloot means ‘ditch’ in Dutch), Gijs Schalkx’s ingenious vehicle features a modified Honda GX160 motorcycle engine, with a hole into the airbox, through which it receives the methane. The bright inventor than hooks a balloon filled with methane to the hole, which acts as the fuel tank. The engine still starts with gasoline, but once it starts, it uses the methane to keep going. But what truly makes Gijs’ project special is the fact that he manually harvests the methane himself from roadside swamps and ponds, a labor that takes approximately eight hours. The methane only lasts 12 miles at a top speed of 27mph.

Photo: Uitsloot

Schalkx claims that he got the idea for his Sloot Motor while reading about a fisherman who allegedly used methane collected while out fishing to fry some eggs. He adapted the concept to suit his needs, which also involved creating a tool for harvesting the methane, which he calls a plompstation.

“A plompstation consists of a collecting apparatus which is anchored to the water, only reachable by those who bring their waders,” the inventor writes on his website. “Next to that there is a pressure pump locked on site for transferring the fuel to your fuel container.”


While the Sloot Motor is undeniably ingenious, it wasn’t built as a serious alternative to electric or internal combustion engines. Its relatively low speed and disappointing fuel efficiency make it a poor alternative, not to mention the work required to actually harvest the fuel. Instead, Gijs Schalkx hopes that it will make people 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 rhetorically asks. “A goal that we are blindly following without thinking about the consequences and counting on technology to save us.”


“Driving an electric car does not mean that you are exempt from the oil circuit on which our society runs. Throwing more money at a problem won’t solve it, we are the problem and we have to change,” the Dutch student adds.

While swamp-harvested methane may be a hard-to-come-by fuel in many parts of the world, Schalkx points out that “it is easy to find a little pond or ditch that will serve as source for fuel anywhere in the Netherlands.” As for the eight hours required to harvest enough bog methane for a 20km-ride on the Sloot Motor, he claims the hard work just ensures “that it will be the best 20 kilometers of your life, priceless”.