You perhaps remember the article on backpacks for cows’ farts I published this summer. It seems there is another way to limit methane emissions produced by bovines.
Collecting their manure – and thus the methane – could decrease global warming and provide energy as this greenhouse gas is quite similar to natural gas.
This seems to be a very good solution even if it would concern firstly large dairy farms where the amount of gas is enough to pay the installation.
According to EcoGeek:
As a greenhouse gas, methane is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide when it comes to retaining atmospheric heat.
And so, although it generally gets less face time in the press, it accounts for a disproportionately large chunk of global GHG emissions.
Where does the methane come from? Cows, mostly. At the tail end (pardon the pun) of their digestive system, they release methane; either directly or through the decomposition of their waste.
Capturing this methane, then, reduces GHG emissions. Additionally, cow-produced methane is a renewable energy source that, after a little cleaning, can be added into the natural gas pipeline. That is exactly what BioEnergy Solutions is doing in Kern County, CA.
They have recruited three large local dairies to harness the 650,000 cubic feet of gas emitted by their 6,500 dairy cows. That’s enough to power a couple hundred thousand California homes!
On each farm, all the cow manure is collected and mixed with water in a covered lagoon-like area. This causes the manure to decompose and release methane.
BioEnergy built the pipelines to connect the three farms, collect all the methane, treat it so that it meets natural gas standards, and finally feed it into a PG&E pipeline.
Obviously, the benefits of cow-produced biogas do not extend very far beyond those regions rife with dairy farms.
But in Kern, there are still six other major dairy farms that could be tapped, which would triple the benefits currently in place. Let’s hope they wake up and smell the… coffee.
This is a brilliant idea. I guess this kind of installation will become widespread as natural gas increase.
To conclude, the image illustrating this post is the cover of the Pink Floyd’s album Atom Heart Mother, one of my favourite albums.