The Daily Telegraph
Masks catch methane from burping cows
Device can convert the gas into CO2 and water vapour – reducing the carbon emissions of herds by 60pc
Cows will be given masks to capture and convert methane in their burps, thanks to an invention backed by the Prince of Wales. Startup company Zelp has been working with one of the UK’S largest meat producers to test the devices on cows to help cut the carbon footprint of British beef. About 95 per cent of the methane emitted by a cow is thought to come from its mouth and nostrils. The invention won a £50,000 prize that forms part of the Prince’s Sustainable Markets Initiative.
THE sight of people wearing masks has been normalised over the past two years but seeing them on a herd of cows may still raise an eyebrow. However, that is exactly what might come to pass.
An invention, backed by the Prince of Wales, is planning to fit innovative methane-catching devices to British herds to reduce their emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas.
Startup company Zelp, founded by Francisco Norris, a former Royal College of Arts student, uses pioneering technology to convert methane that is burped out by dairy and beef herds into water and carbon dioxide in an attempt to stem emissions.
It has been working with one of the UK’S largest meat producers to test the devices on cows to help cut the carbon footprint of British beef.
Cows produce methane and carbon dioxide, both of which contribute to climate change but the former poses a far greater threat to the environment.
Around 95 per cent of the methane emitted by a cow is thought to come from their mouths and nostrils.
The device sits around the animal’s head and captures methane emitted when it exhales. The gas travels through a micro-sized catalytic converter, and it is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and water vapour.
The company said tests had shown a 53 per cent reduction in methane emissions, and it is hoping to reach 60 per cent next year.
The invention was one of four to win £50,000 awarded by the Terra Carta Design Lab, a prize for Royal College of Art students and alumni which forms part of the Prince’s Sustainable Markets Initiative. Winners were selected by a panel including the Prince of Wales, who is also the Royal Visitor at the RCA, and Sir Jony Ive, the chancellor of the Royal College of Art and a former chief design officer at Apple. Yesterday, the Prince and Sir Jony visited an exhibition showcasing the designs at the RCA, with Prince Charles hailing the invention as “fascinating”.
Speaking to the winners he said: “I can’t tell you how proud I am to be associated with the Royal College of Art, particularly as a result of seeing the remarkable ideas presented by many of the alumni and existing students. “It is critical, because of the urgency we face in terms of the crisis confronting us in all directions and just how important what their ideas represent is in terms of finding solutions rapidly.
“I can only hope as a result of this, and drawing more attention to what you are doing, we will have a better chance of winning this battle in shorter time. I can only wish you every possible success. Many congratulations, marvellous.”
While carbon dioxide makes up the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions, methane is the second-most prevalent gas, making up around a fifth of global emissions.
It does not last as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, persisting for around a decade, but has a warming effect many times more powerful.
The company has been testing the technology on farms run by ABP, the UK’S largest beef processor, and is currently planning a commercial rollout, set to begin next year.
The three other winning designs, from a field of 125 submissions, were: Aerseeds, artificial seed pods made from food waste; AMPHITEX, a recyclable textile; and The Tyre Collective, a device which collects tyre wear particles.