Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Dream Has Become A Reality

In a bid to understand the impact of the wind produced by cows on global warming, scientists collected gas from their stomachs in plastic tanks attached to their backs.

Guillermo Berra, a researcher at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology, said every cow produces between 800 to 1,000 litres of emissions every day.
I just hope they haven't run into any patent infringement issues.

As loyal Fat Knowledge readers know, over 2 years ago I dreamed of the possibility of collecting the methane from cows. As I wrote:
What if instead of letting the methane go into the atmosphere where it causes harm, what if you capture it and use it as fuel, lessening our dependence on fossil fuels (methane is natural gas for those of you that didn't take o-chem)? I'm imagining a sci-fi like device with a tube that is inserted into one of the cow's stomachs that draws off the methane gas into a balloon on the side of the cow.
It brings a little tear to the eye to see that the dream has become a reality.

via The Telegraph

Update: Now with video. Still not clear to me how it connects to their stomach.

Update #2:This article has a picture of how the tube attaches to the cow.

Also, they state that a cow gives off 28-35 (lets call it 33) cubic feet of methane a day, or 1,000 cubic feet a month. The EIA put the commercial price of 1,000 cubic feet at $12.45 in April of 2008. At that price, you could capture $150 of methane per cow per year.


Jeremy Goodell said...

Why stop with cows? I work with two other male programmers in a small enclosed office. If you were to capture the post-lunch methane from that room, it would probably power all our computers.

Seriously though, don't you think that cow feels a bit silly?

Fat Knowledge said...


One species at a time. :)

Though, the amount of methane that humans produce just isn't that much. It is the ruminants that are digesting cellulose with bacteria in their gut that end up with so much.

And as for feeling silly, from the cows I have interacted with, I just don't think that they are bright enough to grasp the concept of silliness let alone feel it.

climateer said...

I was tempted to bring the story (and especially the picture) to your attention but thought the joy of serendipitous discovery would make it all the sweeter.
As to cows intelligence, I believe the one in the photo is smart enough to register bovine bewilderment.
Do you have the drawings that accompanied the patent for that contraption?

Fat Knowledge said...


I was tempted to bring the story (and especially the picture) to your attention but thought the joy of serendipitous discovery would make it all the sweeter.

It was a sweet discovery. I think my first thought, was wow this is cool. My second thought was, hey why hasn't climateer brought this to my attention already? :)

Yes, I could go with bovine bewilderment. I wonder though, if they don't burp up all that gas, do they have better breath? Do they feel less bloated?

As for the drawing on the patent, here it is. There is a link to the filing with additional pictures.

Rebelfish said...

This is what happens when Dr Evil takes over the cow-power business. Okay, so it's still a good idea, but certainly a little more sinister.

BTW, Auditorium is a fun game. Many times, however, after I complete a level, the page just hangs out and I have to refresh. Ah well -- it's still in test mode.

Fat Knowledge said...


"Thai research team invited to design and install a biogas plant in Nigeria" is Dr Evil? I don't know about that. Seems like a good idea to me.

Sorry to hear Auditorium is hanging on you. Worked well for me, but I got to 3-6 and that was the last level. Hopefully they will have more soon.

Rebelfish said...

Well, they actually use a real euphemism in the article. The "abattoir effluent" that they are making into biofuel is bio waste from slaughterhouses. So instead of power from Cow Farts, it's power from Cow Parts.

Fat Knowledge said...

Ah, I didn't realize what "abattoir effluent" meant. That is one heck of a euphemism.

Still, better to clean the it up and use it for bio-gas than just dump it and pollute the surrounding area.

And if I am correct, in the US we turn that effluent back into cattle feed, do we not? Which reminds me of my favorite Far Side cartoon. Better biogass than animal feed if you ask me.

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