Class of 2021
Believe it or not, cows’ methane emissions account for 4% of global greenhouse gas. While the world’s population can certainly look to reduce this by eating less beef and consuming fewer dairy products, it will inevitably take time to overhaul habits. A quicker solution is to get right to the bottom of the problem.
Sweden-based scientists Leo Wezelius, Fredrik Åkerman and Angelo Demeter have devised a way to reduce cows’ enteric methane emissions by 80%. They achieve this through one of the world’s most abundant natural products: seaweed. Volta Seafeed, the bovine nutrition they have developed, uses a mix of red seaweed and natural bioactive compounds that block one of the enzymes that causes methane production. When fed to cows at a daily dose of 100g, it eliminates most of the methane gas and unlocks more energy in the form of hydrogen and carbon, which was previously used to create the unwanted gas. This increases the animal’s wellbeing and productivity without affecting its health.
2021 will see the completion of team’s factory in the town of Lysekil, on the Swedish west coast, where they are growing the seaweed in land-based production systems. Before the end of the year, they plan to roll out what they describe as “the world’s most climate-friendly milk” and by 2030, they aim to feed all of Sweden’s cows with their product. Ambitious, inspiring and a great example of a centuries-old problem being eliminated through the use of groundbreaking and imaginative environmental science.
“The chief motivation behind what we are doing is to inspire others and create a movement of people who are all moving in the same direction, collaborating and supporting each other. We are all in the same boat, and this inspiration, motivation and momentum is exactly what humanity needs to unite and harness our collective potential, which is necessary for solving the global challenges we are facing.” – Leo Wezelius, Fredrik Åkerman, Angelo Demeter