#31: Ruminant roomba?

Global warming, we are told, is a) real and b) bad.

As a resident of a cold country, I might quibble about whether being able to drive around without fear of skidding into stationary objects is actually that much of a problem. Leaving that aside, it turns out that (otherwise blameless) cows contribute significantly to the warming process.

Ruminant livestock (including cattle, sheep, goats, and buffalo) produce about 80 million metric tons of methane per year…which is a hell of a lot. Farmers can currently buy a digester system which transforms collected cow dung into bottled methane for use as a fuel. The bad news (aside from having to drive muck about all day) is that each system costs in the region of $200,000 which, even for farmers, is a bit of a stretch. Without getting too technical, most of the methane comes in the form of belch anyway, which is harder to harvest.

Today’s invention is a light, sealed, translucent, arched canopy; big enough to comfortably cover a herd of cattle. This would be equipped with an efficient fan to collect the warm methane near the top. It would form a loose seal on the grass surface, using some form of crude skirt and It might also make sense to have this canopy move slowly and randomly within the field.

This would obviously provide a measure of weather protection too, assuming a limited number of stampedes.

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