NZ Herald: Hungry bugs could slash animal-gas danger

In the fight to reduce New Zealand’s methane emissions, some tiny organisms could be major contenders.

Eloise Gibson of the NZ Herald reports that methanotrophs – bacteria which consume methane – are being cultured from volcanic soils on the top of Taupo District Council’s  landfill.  Already used in landfills, the hope is that these bacteria can be used to filter the gases coming off effluent ponds, a significant source of methane emissions.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Landcare Research scientist Adrian Walcroft said effluent ponds were the source of 9 to 18 per cent of methane emissions from the average dairy herd. Only 5 per cent of New Zealand herds were big enough (800-1000 cows) to justify turning their methane into energy.

“But even at low carbon prices, a methane biofilter could be profitable for the average 351-cow farm, he said.

“Methane makes up just over a third of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gases, and technologies to combat it are not well advanced.

“Dr Walcroft said the bacteria could cut methane from effluent by up to 98 per cent.”