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Bill Gates invested in a startup to combat cow burping and gases: why does he need it

Launched by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 2015, Breakthrough Energy Ventures has spearheaded funding for Australian startup Rumin8. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma also support Breakthrough. Writes about it The Guardian.

Photo: IStock

Rumin8 is developing a range of cow nutrition supplements to reduce the amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas they emit. The food includes red algae and pasture plants that reproduce the "natural anti-methanogenic compound" and reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by their burping.

Gaseous ruminants are not often considered a major cause of the climate crisis, unlike cars or power plants, but hoofed animals can emit 220 pounds (100 kg) of methane per year, the equivalent of burning 900 gallons (3 liters) of gasoline.

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Together, this endless procession is the main source of methane, a gas that retains heat 80 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide and whose emissions are rising worldwide. A 2022 study found that the combined methane emissions of the world's 15 largest meat and dairy companies are higher than those of several of the world's largest countries, including Russia, Canada and Australia.

The US and EU are among those that have signed a global commitment to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030, but with meat consumption expected to rise worldwide in the coming decades, some companies are looking for ways to directly reduce the impact on the planet's climate.

Previous studies have shown that adding seaweed to cow feed can reduce the production of methane in their intestines by more than 80%. Gates has previously spoken about the impact of eating meat on the climate and advocated for people to switch completely to consuming synthetic beef.

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“There is a genuine desire to fund solutions to reduce enteric methane emissions from livestock, and fortunately for Rumin8, these people are seeing the benefits of our technology,” said David Messina, Managing Director of Rumin8, which will use the funding to commercialize its product. "Our lab results continue to deliver excellent results, our animal testing reflects lab results, and the financial modeling we're doing indicates we'll be able to ship our products at a commercial price."

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