Where does the methane in cattle come from?
Cattle enzymatically decompose food sources such as grass and other plant proteins. During enteric fermentation within the rumen fatty acids along with hydrogen and CO2 are produced. While the fatty acids are used as a source of energy for the cow and its microbiome, the CO2 and hydrogen are used as substrates for the methanogenesis. The conversion of the two gasses into methane is done by Archaea and finally released into the air by the cow belching.
We will use the powers of seaweed to curb methanogenesis.
Studies have shown that cows, when fed with algae, had reduced methane outputs by up to 80%. The main compound responsible for this is bromoform. Wow, problem solved! Add algae to the cows feed and the problem is solved? Sadly, it is not that simple. To achieve such notable levels of methane reduction, large quantities of algae would be required. Implementing these large quantities of algae proves to be very challenging outside the lab for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, the seaweed within the cows feed has led to negative effects on the cow’s digestion. Secondly, scaling the production of algae for said amounts would be near impossible. Lastly, the bromoform produced by seaweed farms catalyzes the recombination of ozone leading to its depletion. Should we really try fixing an environmental issue by creating another?
Our approach MSP-Maastricht chose to say “moo” to methane creating a microorganism that can produce bromoform for us. These microorganisms we design, will enable the addition of bromoform to the cow’s food on a worldwide scale. Thereby actively contributing to a greener world.