Bill Gates Invests In Food That Stops Cows From Burping

Bovine belching releases billions of pounds of methane gas into the atmosphere. Rumin8 food additives aim to block the burps.

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By Jonathan Small

Cows are the number one agricultural source of greenhouse gases worldwide. Every year, one cow will belch about 220 pounds of methane gas.

A startup out of Australia called Rumin8 thinks they have a solution to the bovine burping problem. The climate technology company makes a methane-reducing feed additive that can significantly reduce methane emissions.

In other words, it causes cows to burp a lot less.

Today, the company announced that it closed Phase 2 of its seed funding round with a $12 million investment from Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV).

"BEV is keenly interested in reducing methane emissions from beef and dairy," said Carmichael Roberts of BEV. "Rumin8 offers a low-cost, scalable toolbox that has already proven to be effective in reducing emissions."

Related: Step-Counters for Cows? Yep, It's a Thing.

An alternative to seaweed

The meat industry has been experimenting with edible red algae that prevent greenhouse gas from bubbling up in cow's bellies. One study found that adding seaweed to cows' food could cut their methane emissions by 98%.

Just one problem: The amount of seaweed needed to do this could negatively affect aquatic life.

Rumin8 says they have created an alternative, synthetic seaweed, that replicates the effects of seaweed without taking a toll on the ocean. The company offers a water-soluble option for cows — and mineral supplement powders and oil-based liquids for other animals.

"Our laboratory results continue to yield excellent results, our animal trials are reflecting the laboratory results, and the financial modeling we are undertaking is indicating we will be able to supply our products at a commercial price point," said Rumin8 Managing Director David Messina.

But not everyone is a fan of seaweed and synthetic seaweed for cows.

Some scientists say the high levels of bromoform in these products can deplete the ozone layer.

"When the world realizes that we might be producing ozone-depleting chemicals to solve methane, well, I don't know if anyone is going be happy about that," Richard Eckard, professor of sustainable agriculture at the University of Melbourne told Bloomberg News. "A lot of this should still be in the research phase and not in the commercialization phase."

Gates and his investors disagree.

"Our team will support Rumin8 in working closely with farmers to expand the reach of this solution globally," said Messina.

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief of Green Entrepreneur

Jonathan Small is editor-in-chief of Green Entrepreneur, a vertical from Entrepreneur Media focused on the intersection of sustainability and business. He is also an award-winning journalist, producer, and podcast host of the upcoming True Crime series, Dirty Money, and Write About Now podcasts. Jonathan is the founder of Strike Fire Productions, a premium podcast production company. He had held editing positions at Glamour, Stuff, Fitness, and Twist Magazines. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, and Good Housekeeping. Previously, Jonathan served as VP of Content for the GSN (the Game Show Network), where he produced original digital video series.

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