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25 Mar 2009 05:03:01

Additive to reduce cows' methane emissions on innovation shortlist

Additive to reduce cows' methane emissions on innovation shortlist
An animal feed supplement that could reduce livestock greenhouse gas emissions by at least a quarter has been shortlisted as one of the five most innovative solutions to climate change.

Mootral, a garlic-based additive that fights the growth of methane-causing bacteria in the stomachs of cows and sheep, has made the shortlist of the Financial Times' Climate Change Challenge.

Cows are responsible for a fifth of global greenhouse gases, as they produce 200 billion litres of methane per day, reports the newspaper.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 22 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Following trials which showed that compound could reduce bacteria's methane production by 94 per cent, it is now undergoing animal trials.

The product, already being produced on a commercial scale by Neem Biotech, has been welcomed as a "simple, elegant and easy to implement" solution by Leon Sandler, one of the panellists for the competition.

Also on the shortlist are hollow ceiling tiles that use evaporated water to extract heat from a room, which could replace traditional systems of pumping cool air into a room to bring down its temperature.

A solar powered cooker which packs flat and could be distributed to communities in the developing world is also among the last five.



Discussion Thread  

touchwood wrote:

28 Mar 2009

On the subject of methane from cattle surely the arguement is the same as using biomass for energy the carbon is not coming from fossil fuel but grass which has only recently grown and so is a closed loop. The amount of carbon coming out of the cow is the same as that they have eaten whether is is co2 or ch4 or am I missing something

Duncan wrote:

30 Mar 2009

Hi touchwood,

I understand what you're saying, but there is actually a significant difference.

With biomass, most of the carbon released is in the form of CO2 - and the carbon that plants absorb when growing is also CO2 - therefore the two balance out (more or less, depending on what aspects of the total biomass energy lifecycle you include).

However, with livestock 'emissions', the carbon is released as methane. Methane has a higher value (equivalent carbon dioxide value) in terms of climate change and global warming. I.e. molecule for molecule, methane is more damaging than CO2 ( more damaging in fact), despite the fact both molecules contain one carbon atom (O2 and H4).

So, although the net carbon input and output from cows is more or less equal, the form that carbon takes is very important when assessing the climate impact, thus reducing methane emissions would definitely be beneficial.

I hope that's useful.

Discussion Thread  


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