What is the point of a smart face mask for cows?

Answer: To curb methane emissions.

Two cows in a field looking at the camera.
Martin Gommel/Flickr CC
If you weren’t already aware, cows contribute a lot of methane to the atmosphere, which is harmful to the planet. The University of California, Davis, has found that a single cow will produce about 220 pounds of methane annually, 95 percent of which comes from its burps.

Hence, a smart face mask for cows. Developed by U.K. startup Zelp Ltd, it works much like the catalytic converter on a car. Solar-powered fans inside the mask pull the burps into a methane-absorbing filter, converting them to carbon dioxide. It then releases that carbon dioxide into the air. In trials, the device was found to cut methane emissions by up to 53 percent.

Thanks to a solar cell and thermoelectric generator, the mask can run for up to four years without needing to be recharged. Zelp says that it is adjustable and is similar to a “normal halter or collar.” While it has yet to be verified by independent experts, Zelp CEO Francisco Norris said that peer-reviewed studies are on the way. Zelp has teamed up with Cargill, a giant in the agriculture sector, to sell the masks.
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