Meat & Livestock News

Lumen Bioscience Targets Methane Emissions Amidst Global Concerns

Lumen Bioscience, a company based in Seattle, has secured $1.5 million from the Wilkes Center Climate Prize to develop a solution to reduce methane emissions from cows. Notably, 97% of these emissions come from cow belching, as highlighted by the U.S. Dairy Council and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration. This initiative addresses growing global concerns about greenhouse gas emissions.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, accounts for nearly 20% of global emissions and can trap heat 25 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide. This makes the endeavour of Lumen Bioscience all the more crucial.

The company’s groundbreaking strategy zeroes in on a specific organism in the cow’s stomach, which is the primary source of methane during belching. Through rigorous research, Lumen has formulated a patented concoction of enzymes. 

When introduced to the diet of beef and dairy cows, this blend has the potential to markedly reduce methane emissions, thereby diminishing the total greenhouse gases released into our environment.

It’s imperative to understand the gravity of methane emissions.  Human activities are responsible for a staggering 50-65% of the world’s methane emissions. 

In the U.S. alone, livestock, which are integral for dairy and meat production, contribute to approximately 25% of these emissions. Addressing this issue, especially cow belching, can lead to a rapid and significant reduction in the atmospheric warming potential.

But why do cows produce methane? The answer lies in their diet, primarily consisting of grass and hay. These are tough to digest, and the cow’s digestive system, especially a compartment called the rumen, aids in breaking it down with the assistance of bacteria and microbes. 

A specific microorganism, an archaea known as a methanogen, plays a pivotal role in fermentation, resulting in methane production.

Lumen’s innovative approach is centred around the development of a food additive. This additive, designed to target and neutralise methanogens, ensures no harm to the cow or other beneficial bacteria in its digestive tract. This research’s foundation is utilising spirulina, a microbe, to produce an enzyme protein that exclusively targets methanogens. 

With promising initial lab results, the secured funding will be channelled into refining this solution and evaluating its effectiveness in cows.