Cow farts contribute to climate change. Now comes an idea for collecting up the gas, and making energy instead.

The project from Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology is proof-of-concept at this stage. But it is intriguing.

Researchers put plastic backpacks on cows, then inserted tubes into their rumens (their biggest digestive tract). Then, they extracted the methane--about 300 liters a day. That's enough to run a car, or a fridge for 24 hours.

2014-04-15

Co.Exist

These Backpacks For Cows Collect Their Fart Gas And Store It For Energy

Each cow apparently passes enough gas to power a car or a fridge. Imagine the possibilities.

Cows produce up to 25% of methane emissions, and methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas. It's no joke, then, to talk about limiting emissions from cow farts. We've written before about new breeding techniques and feeds, which could help cows better digest their food so they produce less gas. Now comes an idea for collecting up the gas, and making energy from it.

Well, sort of. The project from Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology is only a proof-of-concept at this stage. But it is intriguing. Researchers put plastic backpacks on cows, then inserted tubes into their rumens (their biggest digestive tract). They extracted the methane--about 300 liters a day. That's enough to run a car, or a fridge for 24 hours.

Pablo Sorondo, INTA's press officer, says the project isn't ongoing. The point is to show that it's possible to collect methane from cows and use it for energy. That's unlikely to be as part of the mainstream system. But perhaps it could be viable on remote farms, he says (Argentina has 51.2 million cows).

"[We] believe that such technology could be used to collect methane on larger scale, and even imagine a future farm with a couple of these cows used to provide energy to satisfy the farm’s needs," Sorondo says.

"It could also be possible to think in an association of farmers in a certain area, cooperating to provide the community with this source of energy."

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8 Comments

  • Nix Moon

    Is there no end to suffering for cows, pigs, chickens and other American delectibles? How about NOT EATING cows and thus not breeding millions of the them to produce the methane gas that is damaging the ozone? Its ironic that we are seriously degrading our planet by producing, abusing and consuming cattle and that we then complain about their methane emissions! How would you like to live your two short years with a tube stuck up your ass, heavy, hot backpack on your back and some idiot farmer lighting flames around your face to ignite your farts? All this and then painfully slaughtered? Sounds wrong to me!

  • Thomas Murphy

    AND...you can have a glass of fresh, wholesome, organic milk while you drive! What could be better than that?

  • Jeremy Rivera

    THEY EAT THE DAMN COWS. How is this even worse? Obviously they wouldn't have gotten funding if it harmed the cows. We use their eyes, skin, intestines for soup. But flatulence? NO! Too far!

  • Farmer's daughter here. Would the extraction of methane gas from the cow's digestive tract screw up their digestive process? Cows still need methane to process food. Just wondering if it's "excess" gas the backpacks are removing? Call me a geek.

  • Manuel Rozas

    Cows don´t need the methane, it is only a by product from the bacteria they use for this purpose.