​Meet the cow-fart-backpack that wants to fight climate change

This is how you turn cow farts into energy.

Image source: INTA

Methane released by cows as a result of their digestive processes is a problem. It accounts for 25 percent of all methane emissions, and methane happens to be one of the worst greenhouse gases. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is over 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.


If the problem (and cows' role in it) wasn't that serious, the Obama administration wouldn't have proposed a plan to cut the methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25 percent by 2020. But while the American government might not have thought of this funny a solution for such a serious problem, Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) has come up with quite an innovative (and amusing) one.

Meet the cow-fart-backpack that wants to fight climate change.

Image source: INTA

The reasoning behind the device is the following — what if we could found a way to capture the nearly 300 litres (or 80 gallons) methane a day, an average cow emits, and turn that gas into useful biofuel? Developing the backpack, the institute's goal was to show that such a process is possible. And so it did.

The backpack manages to capture and collect the gases emitted through the cow's mouth or intestinal tract via a tube inserted through the cow's skin (which the researchers claim is painless). The gas is then condensed and ready to use to provide power for the farm on which the cow lives, for example, for activities such as cooking, lighting a home or even driving a car.

According to Ricardo Bualo, one of the technicians working on the project, the 300 liters of methane per day a cow emits, can be used to operate a fridge capacity of 100 liters at a temperature of between two and six degrees for a full day.

As of now, there are no plans to produce and use the backpack on a large scale, but the device surely shows an interesting way to approach a problem. Ingenious, funny or disturbing? You decide.

From Your Site Articles

Yug, age 7, and Alia, age 10, both entered Let Grow's "Independence Challenge" essay contest.

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
Keep reading Show less

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

Is there a limit to optimism when it comes to climate change?

Or is doubt a self-fulfilling prophecy?

David McNew/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

'We're doomed': a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change.

Keep reading Show less

What should schools teach? Now is the moment to ask.

The future of learning will be different, and now is the time to lay the groundwork.

What should schools teach? Now is the moment to ask. | Caroline ...
Future of Learning
  • The coronavirus pandemic has left many at an interesting crossroads in terms of mapping out the future of their respective fields and industries. For schools, that may mean a total shift not only in how educators teach, but what they teach.
  • One important strategy moving forward, thought leader Caroline Hill says, is to push back against the idea that getting ahead is more important than getting along. "The opportunity that education has in this moment to really push students and think about what is the right way to live, how do we do it and how do we do it in a way that doesn't hurt or rob the dignity of other people?"
  • Hill also argues that now is the time for bigger swings and for removing the barriers that limit education. The online space is boundary free and provides educators with new opportunities to connect with students around the world.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…