Volta Greentech aims to drastically reduce methane gas emissions from cows
There are about one billion cows on Earth, with each one belching about 220 pounds of methane gas every year. Swedish startup Volta Greentech is trying to shrink the cattle industry’s carbon footprint by producing seaweed that makes cows burp and fart less.
Methane is up to 80 times more effective at heating the planet than carbon dioxide in the short term, and is considered the lowest hanging fruit in the fight against climate change. The global livestock industry is accountable for about 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
“So for the whole food industry, the biggest climate problem is cows farting and burping gas,” Volta Greentech CEO and Co-Founder Fredrick Åkerman said.
More than 105 countries committed to reducing methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The UN Environment Program says reducing methane emissions is one of the most cost-effective strategies to rapidly reduce the rate of global warming.
“If we want to reach the climate goals, we need to find solutions to reduce methane from the cows,” Åkerman said. “And there are really no solutions out there to do it.”
Åkerman says they launched Volta Greentech in 2019 after digging into research showing a specific type of seaweed that can reduce emissions from cows. The company provides farmers with an entirely natural seaweed-based feed supplement to drastically reduce methane emissions from cows and cattle.
“We want to come in with a solution to help them reduce emissions from their products,” Åkerman said. “So if you go into Coop, ICA or different retail stores, that you can then find beef and dairy that are climate compliant or have less emissions.”
“The climate problem is on all of us”
The startup has a team of 12 people developing a blueprint to produce the seaweed at a large scale. Åkerman says they’ve built a pilot factory on the Swedish west coast, and the company grows the seaweed in tanks on land.
So far, Volta Greentech has completed two pilot programs on commercial beef farms. They’ve say they’ve seen a 80 to 90 percent decrease in methane emissions from bulls after feeding them their seaweed supplement.
“The farmer receives a big bag of seaweed from our factory and then they mix it into the normal feed of the cow,” Åkerman said. “So it’s like a spice, and we know now that the product itself works very well.”
The company also just finished a pilot program this summer with Coop, integrating the seaweed into the food of livestock and reducing the following emissions. An independent third party certified those results, and the beef sold out in stores within a week.
Åkerman says it was the first time beef with lower a methane emission footprint was sold to consumers.
Volta Greentech is now working on building large scale factories in Sweden and improving the seaweed product.
“The whole focus is finding good locations and continuing to develop the way we grow the seaweed,” Åkerman said. “Then constructing large scale production facilities so we can start to feed a lot of animals.”
Volta Greentech was one of 30 finalist companies during Techarenan Challenge at Almedalen in Visby this year.
“The whole focus is finding good locations and continuing to develop the way we grow the seaweed”.Fredrick Åkerman, Volta Greentech.
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