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Cow co-firing

co-site power station and cowshed
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Cows burp out a fair amount of methane [1], which in most cases escapes to the atmosphere where it acts as a potent greenhouse gas.
It has often been suggested [2] that this methane could be salvaged, however, previous methods involved strapping collectors to the cows themselves. These don't seem to be widely practiced presumably due to implementional difficulties.
Due to the changing nature of farming, many cows now spend most of their lives indoors, in huge groups which rarely if ever go outside. There are literally shed-loads of cows. This obviously opens up an opportunity to acquire the bulk of the methane, provided it can be used immediately and at low concentration.

I therefore propose that a (fossil fuel, or biomass) powerstation could use this methane by the simple expedient of drawing its air through the cowshed.[3]

The only potential drawback to this method that I can see is that the input air would have slightly reduced oxygen content, and potentially increased humidity - both of which may reduce efficiency. Hopefully the latter could be mitigated by careful design, and together these effects would be smaller than the overall gain from the increased fuel supply.

[1] According to one report, on average 250 litres of methane per cow per day. This represents 11.2 moles, which would provide almost a megajoule of heat (HHV)on combustion.

[2] See: other ideas in this category.

[3] This could be complemented by methane from anaerobic digestion of manure, which has the advantage that it is at higher concentration and can therefore more easily be stored to help with peak load.

Loris, Feb 14 2011

Prior art Car_20Flatulence_20Elimination_20System
An earlier low-concentration methane burning idea [spidermother, Feb 15 2011]

Nocton Dairies http://www.noctondairies.co.uk/
3770 indoor cow farm planned for Lincolnshire [Loris, Feb 15 2011]

[DrCurry]'s link to PowerCows in this category. http://www.pulsepla...ailies.php?POP=2389
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Feb 15 2011]

[link]






       I thought it was a double barrel cow gun
Voice, Feb 14 2011
  

       //According to one report, on average 250 litres of methane per cow per day//Ten moles of methane doesn't sound worth harvesting.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Feb 14 2011
  

       This idea suffers from the disadavantage that it is not at all half-baked, but actually extremely good.   

       [AWL], do the math. That's just one cow, if there are very many cows then it makes sense.   

       Waste heat from the power generation could keep the cows warm in winter.   

       This would work for both milk and beef production.   

       If the cow manure plus sewage are then subjected to anaerobic digestion, even more methane is available as the primary fuel for generation; can be combined with district heating.   

       [+]
8th of 7, Feb 14 2011
  

       I'm pretty sure cows live outdoors except when they're being milked. But could be used for those tasty veal calves.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 14 2011
  

       You poor naive thing [MB].
pocmloc, Feb 15 2011
  

       //naive// Sp. "English"? I think intensive indoor farming of cattle is not common and generally frowned on in the UK at least. The French, though, would probably do this sort of thing.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 15 2011
  

       //I think intensive indoor farming of cattle is not common and generally frowned on in the UK at least. //   

       According to an episode of Countryfile shown late last year, at least one similar system is planned in the UK.
Loris, Feb 15 2011
  

       Euch.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 15 2011
  

       //many cows now spend most of their lives indoors, in huge groups which rarely if ever go outside//   

       Why do I see this ending up as some cow version of the matrix, with all these cows in racks plugged into a virtual world...Neo the Cow, the one with the moo-ves...
not_morrison_rm, Feb 16 2011
  
      
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