‘Cow of the future’ to sport ‘gas backpack’ for your safety

‘Cow of the future’ to sport ‘gas backpack’ for your safety

[Ed. – Can’t make this stuff up.]

A White House climate initiative has boosted a quixotic search for the “cow of the future”, a next-generation creature whose greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by anti-methane pills, burp scanners and gas backpacks.

Carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is the primary man-made gas warming the planet, but methane is far more potent and the US’s biggest source of it is its 88m cattle, which produce more than landfill sites, natural gas leaks or hydraulic fracturing.

The Obama administration’s launch last month of a plan to curb methane emissions has given fresh relevance to climate-friendly technologies for cattle that range from dietary supplements and DNA gut tests to strap-on gas tanks. …

Juan Tricarico, director of the Cow of the Future project at the Innovation Center for US Dairy, an Illinois research institute, said…there were common misconceptions about where cattle methane comes from. “Ninety-seven per cent of all the methane gas is released by the front end through burps, not from the back end,” he said. …

C-Lock, a South Dakota company, sells a feeding station that gives animals dietary supplements such as basil to cut methane production and measures the content of their breath by pulling it towards trace gas sensors with a vacuum.

Patrick Zimmerman, C-Lock’s founder, says prices start at $45,000 but stresses the economic benefits of improved efficiency. …

At Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology, scientists have created backpacks that collect gas via tubes plugged into cows’ stomachs. A typical animal emits 250-300 litres of methane a day and researchers say this could be used to power a car or a refrigerator for a day, but Jorge Antonio Hilbert of the institute says the tanks’ use on a large scale is “totally improbable”.

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