Francisco Norris and his brother Patricio come from a cattle-ranching family in Argentina. In the UK, they founded Zelp, a company that aims to capture methane emissions at the source.
Because of their background, they knew that cows exhale most of the methane through their mouth and nostrils, so they designed a device that sits above the cow’s nose and detects methane. When its level passes a certain threshold, the device absorbs the gas and turns it into water vapour and CO2 -- a far less potent greenhouse gas. According to their research, they can reduce the animal’s emissions to less than 2% of their original value!
Fransisco insisted that the mechanism remained practical for cattle to wear and did not affect them in any way. While testing the prototype, the team thus made sure to monitor any signs of discomfort, such as changes in how much a cow ate, to implement this vision.
Why does it matter? In a year, the billion cows and bulls on the planet can each release 200 pounds of methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than CO2. Over the next few decades, the United Nations predicts that beef and dairy consumption will rise by 70%, increasing the global cattle population and associated emissions.
The Zelp device, which should be on the market in 2022, is designed to last 4 years on a cow without requiring any replacement or recharge. Since it also captures and tracks emissions, farmers will increase their margins by featuring the environmental benefit of their milk and even add a new revenue stream by selling carbon credits.