A barrier gesture against greenhouse gases. Agribusiness and agricultural commodities giant Cargill to sell masks that absorb methane returned by cows, helping to reduce the climate impact of ruminant farming and milk production .
The masks developed by the British start-up Zelp promise to capture half of methane emissions, a gas with a warming power 20 to 30 times greater than that of CO2. Cargill intends to start marketing it to European breeders in 2022, in the form of subscriptions at around $ 80 per year.
Reducing methane emissions from livestock digestion is one of the climate priorities for breeders and food companies, under pressure to decarbonize their entire production chain. The vast majority of methane in cows is released through the nose. The Zelp mask is therefore placed just above and acts as an exhaust catalyst. Small fans powered by solar batteries suck up the cows’ burps and trap them in a filter that absorbs the methane. Once the filter is saturated, a chemical reaction transforms the methane into CO2, which is much less harmful to the climate, before releasing it.
With Cargill, the start-up has access to the trader’s vast customer base in Europe. For its part, the American giant is taking advantage of this technology, which has the advantage of being able to be combined with other innovations. For example, animal feed suppliers are testing additives that inhibit the production in the stomach of certain bacteria that are responsible for methane emissions. With the Zelp mask, which also provides real-time data, the two technologies can be combined. The effectiveness of the mask has yet to be independently certified, which should be done in the fourth trimester.
Adoption by ranchers – often under financial pressure – is not a given, but Cargill believes that farmers will be encouraged to subscribe, either through subsidies, or through premiums paid for low-carbon milk, or by achieving carbon offsetting savings. The Minneapolis-based trading company is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 across its entire supply chain.