Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Wired, a new bovine burp mask fitted with a catalytic converter catches methane expelled from cattle and converts it to CO2 and water. Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.
This burp-catching mask for cows could slow down climate change
Methane from cattle accounts for a significant amount of global warming – startup Zelp has a comfortable and stylish solution
By ANNA MARKS
Friday 1 January 2021
There are 1.6 billion cattle on Earth, and their burps and farts are becoming a big problem. Cows expel methane, a colourless and odourless gas which is approximately 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to warming the planet.
Zelp, a UK-based company, has developed a potential solution in the form of a burp-catching face mask for cows, designed to reduce methane emissions from cattle by 60 per cent. The firm was founded by brothers Francisco and Patricio Norris, whose family run a livestock farming business in Argentina. “We were aware that in every country, methane is one of the biggest contributions to global warming and we found that methane mitigation tools in agriculture are under-researched,” says Francisco. “There isn’t a lot of innovation occurring within the field.”
The mask fits comfortably on a cow’s head with a zip-tie-like mechanism allowing it to be adjusted to various cattle’s head sizes depending on the breed. It is applied to cattle after they are weaned, usually at 6-8 months of age, and sits next to the nostrils, allowing the tool to capture methane from their breathing, belches and burps. “Around 95 per cent of the cattle’s methane emissions come from their nostrils and mouths,” Norris explains. “The technology detects, captures and oxidises methane when it is exhaled by the animals.”
…Read more: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/cows-climate-change-methane-stop
From what I’ve seen of cattle a lot of methane seems to come out the other end, so the mask at best would seem to be a half solution.
I’m also wondering how long the masks would last in real world conditions. Cows are pretty good at destroying stuff which bothers them. I suspect a lot of them would scratch against a tree or rock until the strap breaks, or get other members of the herd to chew on it.