UK company develops mask for cows to control methane emissions and fight climate change

Thanks to research and evidence, it is clear that humans are the main culprits in driving the weather. As we continue to rely more and more on technology and industries, we have polluted the world. But animals are not ultimately innocent, especially cattle. As they become waste and volatile, they release methane, which is 84 times more toxic than carbon dioxide, contributing to greenhouse gases, the equivalent of a residual fuel industry.

Therefore, innocent looking animals are equally responsible for the destruction of a planet like ours. As the war on climate change continues and scientists are doing everything they can to protect our only habitat, technology will once again drive the factors that led to it in the first place. One such technique is for livestock, especially for the dairy industry. To protect the planet from methane-emitting animals, a UK-based start-up has come up with a solution – a mask. A start-up called Zelp (Zero Emission Livestock Project) says the mask is designed to reduce methane emissions in animals by up to 60 percent.

“We know that in every country, methane is the biggest contributor to global warming and we have found that methane mitigation equipment is being researched in agriculture. There has not been much innovation in the field,” the co-founder said. Francisco Norris told Wired. Francisco owns a livestock farm in Patricio, Argentina, with his brother.

Cow mask
Cow’s mask breaks down methane, which is 84 times more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 and carbon dioxide in water.
Facebook / Zelp

The problem of animals

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FFO), the livestock industry is responsible for 7.1 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases, or 14.5 percent of all carbon emissions globally. The livestock industry alone contributes 5.24 gigatonnes of emissions per year. With that in mind, there has been a lot of focus on controlling methane burps through the design of cattle feed fodder. It alters the process of digestion and helps reduce methane gas in the stomach of animals.

However, chemical additives can also be a problem for animal life and products. There have been many cases of SDS (Sudden Death Syndrome) related deaths due to SD derivatives. Therefore, instead of altering the microbiology of the animal, it is better to give a solution that does not interfere with the digestive process.

“About 95 percent of animals’ methane emissions come from their noses and mouths. Technology detects, captures and oxidizes methane when animals exhale.”

Emissions by species
Large amounts of livestock are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions

How does it work?

Unlike human face masks, cow-masks do not cover the mouth. The mask with the zip-tie mechanism sits just above the nose, helping it breathe and get methane from burps. The mask contains a sensor to detect the percentage of methane that the cow exhales.

As the level of methane gets higher, the mask begins the oxidation process. It uses a catalyst to convert methane (CH4) into carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) and to get it out of the mask, Wired reports. “It reduces the global warming potential of methane by less than 1.5 percent of its original value,” Norris said.

Aside from the methane-processing function, the mask also acts as a smart device for cows. It is GPS. The chip monitors the location of the animal, in addition to measuring food activity and sexual receptivity in the female animal. The Norris brothers believe it will help livestock owners identify the early symptoms of the disease and also help reduce farm costs.

This device can successfully pass tests conducted in Argentine institutions in addition to the UK’s Royal Veterinary Argentina. Studies have found that the device had no effect on the animal’s behavior or diet. According to the FFO, global meat consumption is set to grow by 0% in the next 10 years, so demand in the livestock and dairy industries will also increase. Thus, the Norris brothers believe that their cow-mask will be a step in the right direction in the fight against climate change.