Innovation That Matters

Garlic extract cuts back on cows' methane gas


Mention greenhouse gases, and most people think of cars. The reality, however, is that more than 20 percent of such gases around the globe come not from machines but from cows—specifically, the 500 billion liters of methane gas that get emitted by the world’s billion or so cows every day. That’s more than what’s produced by all the cars, planes, ships and trucks on the planet, but Mootral, a small UK startup, may just have found a solution. Working with Welsh company Neem Biotech, Mootral (a pun based on “moo” and carbon neu-“tral”) has developed a unique feed additive for livestock that reduces cows’ methane emissions by at least 25 percent. Methane is a gas reportedly some 22 times more potent than carbon dioxide, but Mootral’s garlic-based extract is a natural antibiotic that fights bacteria in the stomachs of cows and sheep to dramatically reduce its production. In fact, Mootral estimates that it can reduce cow emissions enough to generate GBP 30 per cow of carbon credit per year; all together, that would amount to a carbon credit market potential of more than GBP 30 billion per year, it says. Neem Biotech is already producing the additive—based on a substance called allicin—on a commercial scale, which could be particularly useful now that countries including Estonia, Denmark and Ireland are considering or have implemented an emissions tax for farmers on a “per ruminant capita” basis, according to a report in the Financial Times. Mootral was shortlisted this summer in the Financial Times Climate Challenge; more recently, it’s one of six finalists in the Dutch Lottery’s annual Green Challenge competition, the results of which will be announced this week during PICNIC’09. Mootral is currently undergoing final dosage tests, with plans to launch a sample test at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Copenhagen Summit this December. One to get involved in early…? Spotted by: PICNIC Amsterdam



Download PDF