Can Cow Backpacks Reduce Global Methane Emissions?

Slashdot reader schwit1 shares an article from Bloomberg which argues “It’s time to have a conversation about flatulent cows.”
“Enteric fermentation,” or livestock’s digestive process, accounts for 22 percent of all U.S. methane emissions, and the manure they produce makes up eight percent more, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency… Methane, like carbon, is a greenhouse gas, but methane’s global warming impact per molecule is 25 times greater than carbon’s, according to the EPA.

Cargill has tried capturing some of the methane released from cow manure by using domed lagoons, while researchers at Danone yogurt discovered they could reduce methane emissions up to 30% by feeding cows a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (mostly from flax seed). But now Argentina researchers are testing plastic “methane backpacks” which they strap on to the back of cows, and according to the article “have been able to extract 300 liters of methane a day, enough to power a car or refrigerator.”


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