Novel approach to
reducing methane

Rumen-generated methane emissions are a problem for New Zealand. Methane constitutes 44% of the country’s gross greenhouse gas emissions, of which 89% derive from agriculture. Reducing methane will help to rapidly mitigate short- to mid-term climate change.

The United Nations Climate and Clean Air Coalition estimates a 45% methane reduction by 2030 would avoid 0.3°C warming by 2040. New Zealand has legislated to cut biogenic methane emissions by 10% of 2017 levels by 2030, and 24-47% by 2050. As well, it has signed up to the global methane pledge, which aims to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

In 2021, Lincoln Agritech formed a new GreenTech team specifically to research new methods of reducing greenhouse gases – starting with methane.

“Reducing greenhouse gasses can happen in two ways – preventing them from being formed, or destroying them after they are formed,” says Team Leader David Rankin. “Our team is taking an engineering approach to the destruction of methane after production using a highly selective and efficient electrochemical process.”

By the end of 2022, the team’s research had successfully trialled methods and electrodes to oxidise low concentrations of methane, using as little as 161kJ per mol of methane destroyed (200ppm methane in air). This equates to around a 6c-a-day operating cost per cow, and a provisional patent is pending.

This work is supported by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Centre.

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