Gallery: Burp Catching Backpack Traps and Contains Methane Released by ...


Ah, green design at its finest. Here at Inhabitat we pride ourselves in bringing you the freshest eco-friendly innovations, so how could we pass on the merits of this bright pink burp-trapping bovine backpack? It’s more than just a catchy concept – believe it or not there’s real SCIENCE at work here! The methane collecting tanks were utilized by Argentina’s National Institute for Agricultural Technology as part of a a study to determine the atmospheric impact of methane released by cows. The findings were startling, as researcher Guillermo Berro estimated that “30% of Argentina’s total greenhouse gases could be generated by cattle.” Time to seriously consider that poo power plant!

As off-key as it may sound, methane is a potent greenhouse gas and livestock emissions can contribute a significant share to atmospheric pollution. A single cow is capable of producing from 800-1000 liters (25-35 cubic feet) of emissions every day, which adds up quickly when you consider the 55 million cattle that comprise Argentina’s massive livestock industry.

Berro’s study harnessed ten cows with methane-collecting tanks that captured emissions released from their stomachs, allowing researchers to analyze and extrapolate the environmental impact of raising cattle. The study has sparked interest in the issue and follow-up studies are investigating new diets that reduce methane emissions by making it easier for cows to digest food.

+ National Institute for Agricultural Technology



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  1. david beard August 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Ignoring the benefits of a purely “Vegan” lifestyle for a moment. The article say the average cow produces 25-30 cubic ft of gas. An average dairy herd has about 600 cows. So using simple math….30 x 600 = 18,000 cubic feet a day of gas.

    There are 135 cubic feet of gas in a “Diesel Gallon Equivalent” or DGE….meaning 135 cubic feet can replace one gallon of diesel fuel.

    18,000 /135 = 134.33 DGE a day

    The average Class 8 tanker truck gets 5.8 miles to the gallon….on “Compressed Natural Gas” or CNG.

    So on 134 “DGE” the truck could travel 134 / 5.8 = 777.2 miles….

    Enough to deliver the milk to market a couple times a month….

    If diesel is $3.40 a gallon this would equate to $544.00 month in fuel savings

    For one days “Gas Production”…Gas from the remaining days of the month could be used for “process heat” in the pastuerization process, Shop heat for the dairy, or even some electricity production to run the milking machines…..Tractors, farm vehicles, cars and pick-up trucks….

    Changing the bags would only be a minor addition to the daily routine as the cows are being milked anyway…….

  2. Simply Logic January 20, 2014 at 6:04 am

    This is such BS. What is the concentration of CH4 in those balloon?

  3. timatlightbox February 4, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Hmm, how much Oil is used to produce one of those bags? How much oil is used to produce 14 KG of feed to feed the cow for 1KG of meat. It all simply doesn’t add up, yes sure great idea, a few people could use it in a vehicle, it’s not very practical, ever heard of a thing called Wind? and how many ‘man hours’ does it take to maintain say a heard of 2000 cows? 2000 cows would produce (according to this) 1.6 Millions litres of part methane gas which is useful. I am a very ‘Green’ person I eat a little meat though, I love it, but not very often, probably 10% to what everyone else eats. However a type of solution defined above isn’t solutions at all, they are simply more things which make someone else money, and when someone makes money it generally turns out to be bad for the environment. It’s like trying to fix a leaky pool with a band-aid but knowing that once it rains the water will get to heavy and all the band-aids use to fix the pool will pop off at the same time creating a flood… if ya get where I’m going…

    Solution #1 EAT WAY LESS MEAT!

    Solution #2 Build a resource based economy where everything is provided for us by mechanization and we stop working then we can leave the poor cows alone. Check out Zeitgeist Moving Forward on Youtube: /watch?v=4Z9WVZddH9w

  4. blobbles February 3, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Aha haa haaa… I am laughing at the backpacks (imagine the uproar from NZ dairy farmers having to buy and use these!) and from clairsearch’s awesomely ignorant comment: “Plants and animals are part of a closed system and can’t *add* CO2. People really don’t seem to understand this for some reason.”

    Uhhh… so you think if we chop down all the worlds trees, turning the forests into farmlands for cows, this will have zero effect on the environment? Let me educate you a little… the world found a natural equilibrium between plants and animals a few thousand years ago and it was changing slowly. More recently, resource hungry humans have changed this equilibrium through our ability to massively change the environment faster than mother nature can adapt (well, arguable as the current adaptation strategy by mother nature – climate change – may result in the death of billions, possibly rebalancing). The plant/animal emissions equilibrium that you refer to is being changed faster than our planet can adapt. Hence the planet is suffering a slight sickness we call climate change.

  5. kingericscot January 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    you guys are way over dramaticizing this backpack.( no it’s not an ostomy) it is simply a backpack that collects methane that would otherwise go into our atmosphere. 90% + actually comes from the belches ( not flatulence ) because cows have a ruminant digestive system. this is said not to be uncomfortable to cows and is changed once daily. this would be a good more forward to conserving our earth so stop worrying about stupid things, do a little research, and look at the big picture. thanks

  6. halfmoose August 2, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Color me vegan…feed me a bowl of greens and plug a hose in my side which leads to the methane combustion engine in my eco friendly vehicle…i need to get to town!

  7. JonZed July 30, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Having recently witnessed a cattle \”city\” in Nebraska on a cross-country drive I agree the problem lies not with the cow, but the humans who penned them. A cattle city looks like a bovine Darfur, sans the tents. On the same drive I saw free-range cattle in Wyoming who fed off grasses and were allowed to roam as nature intended.

    While I cannot advocate strict vegetarianism being one reluctant to give up the luxury of the occasional Neiman-ranch burger, I can definitely side and agree with those who wish to massively reduce our production and consumption of meat. The question is, what will be done to educate the majority that eating meat in the quantities they are used to is unhealthy, and more importantly what will be provided as a healthy, (and tasty) cost-conscious alternative?

    In the late 1970s a Wisconsin senator pushed the FDA to educate the US populace about over-consumption of Beef, only to have his career destroyed by Big Beef lobbyists. The only concession the FDA made? The creation of the \”food pyramid\” and pushing the meme of \”nutrients\” which to this day are used to mis-educate people regarding the importance of different foods.

  8. Carbon tax July 28, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Inhabitat should exercise more ethical judgment in glamorizing this inhumane rubbish!

    “the hypothesis that some people have a genetic requirement for meat is, at its basis, unscientific. There’s been a lot of work done on nutrition for well over a hundred years; countless nutrients have been identified; countless foods have been analyzed; and there is every ideological predisposition for meat-eating scientists, in a meat-eating society, to identify nutrients that meat has that other foods don’t.

    Yet despite all this, no necessary nutrient found only in meat has been identified. All the evidence that we have so far indicates that there is no nutrient which any human requires which can only be found in meat. Temple Grandin and the Dalai Lama are in abundant company. Many (perhaps most) people have a vague belief that meat is somehow necessary, at least for them — that’s why the frenetic slaughter of 300 animals a second is going on worldwide. However, it is not very likely that this is the case.”

    borrowed from: Keith Akers

  9. klevine July 26, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I agree with cpine and jeanX. The problem is not the cows, it’s the people. It is not fair to punish the cows for our practices. If I were a cow, I would be very upset if someone put a hose in my stomach and made me carry my excess gas on my back, even if the container is a pretty bright pink. I would moo, and they probably wouldn’t understand what I was saying, and I’d be forced to carry around this flipping backpack for who knows how long. But is this a problem at I, as a cow, have created? No.

    Cows have always produced methane. And they always will. Humans, however, produce the bulk of our noxious gases by choice. As such, we should not force other species to pay for our choices. We should instead evaluate our lifestyles.

    Poor cow indeed.

  10. fest July 26, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    It is the worst idea concerning the ecologie. Make suffer an animal
    for CO2? it is dismaying.Do it for you!

  11. cpine July 25, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Poor cow! They’ve turned it into a walking bomb! Non-farm types commenting on this….Cows produce methane out their you-knows regardless, because of the way their multiple stomachs digest stuff. So do people, without the multiple stomachs. So, letting all the existing cattle die back to some ordained level and then upgrading people’s vegan diets will produce — guess what? More methane-spewing people with more disposable income to overheat the planet in some other fashion! The problem is too many people, not cows…

  12. jeanX July 25, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    This cow has an ostomy?
    This is unethical.

  13. Gary July 25, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Do you see that streak of filthy, matted hair where the hose is inserted through the cow’s side into it’s stomach? Clairseach is correct that plants don’t make “extra” CO2, but it takes 16lbs (7 kilos) of plants to raise 1 lb (.5 kilo) of beef, so all that grain is raised to very inefficiently create hamburgers. If that grain was used to feed people, we’d need to grow less and raise fewer cows (less methane) and we wouldn’t be raising cows to live short, miserable lives; now with a crazy backpack and a hose stuck through a hole in their side. greymasse is justifiably defensive about an ethic based on nothing more than what his or her mouth wants.

  14. Chys July 25, 2008 at 11:04 am

    People, let me enlighten you a little bit. In Argentina less than 5% of the cows are fed in feed lots. Cows are fed mainly by grass in the open field. Usualy cows are brouth to the field where there used to be something planted, so they can fertalice the ground again.
    And Clairsearch, nobody talked about CO2, we are talking about Methane.
    I think this is a good initiative.

  15. greymase July 25, 2008 at 10:29 am

    clairseach, you raise a point I\\\’ve been noodling around for awhile – especially since I\\\’ve been counseled to give up cheeseburgers for the planet: if the cows don\\\’t eat the grass (or other biological material) grown on a specified plot, won\\\’t some other organism do so and convert the stored carbon into carbon dioxide or methane in similar, if not identical amounts? It would seem that the growth of a given plot would decompose and release whatever it captures, unless it is buried or otherwise isolated from decomposition.

    I am otherwise extremely green, and fairly well versed in alternate energy sciences, but have to admit, I don\\\’t know this bit – and I am hungry for a burger!

    (PS – Please do not berate me for using a food product that takes more resources and that we could feed more people if I were vegetarian instead…hate me if you will, but more people on the planet is not part of my personal mission. We may differ, but that\\\’s my view after due consideration.)

  16. clairseach July 24, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    The only way you can add CO2 to the atmosphere is by burning fossil fuels. Plants and animals are part of a closed system and can’t *add* CO2. People really don’t seem to understand this for some reason.

    It’s ironic that this comes from Argentina where as a rule, cattle is grass fed and mostly organic with feedlots being a recent addition.

  17. eightdouble July 24, 2008 at 11:34 am

    mia, i think you may be reverse engineering the problem as well.

    adopting a plant based diet is the real engineering solution here. even without considering the greenhouse gases it makes ecological sense. from water used in beef production to the number of people we could feed in the world if we didn’t cycle our grain through livestock, then eat the livestock. people need to realize that vegetarianism is environmentalism.

  18. Mia July 24, 2008 at 9:22 am

    The best way to combat this problem is to go back to pasture-raised beef. The real problem is that we are concentrating the animals on feed lots where they are fed grain — particularly corn. Cows were meant to eat GRASS, and that\\\’s why it is so hard for them to digest corn, and hence the gas (not to mention copious other health problems, but that\\\’s another story). This project sounds a lot like reverse-engineering a problem that we created ourselves. Why not just go back to the way nature meant it to be?

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