Skip to main content

Bill Gates investment aims to tackle cow burps

Bill Gates is backing a firm that’s working to reduce the harmful effects of cow burps.

The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft has invested in Australian climate technology startup Rumin8, which is developing a dietary supplement that stops cows from burping out methane — a damaging greenhouse gas impacting climate change.

Due to the way their digestive systems function, cows, along with other animals such as goats and deer, belch out a lot of methane. Research suggests that in the U.S. for example, cattle are the main contributor to methane emissions. With that in mind, we could certainly do with fewer animal emissions.

Bill Gates is trying to help. His support comes via Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), an organization he set up in 2015 to back cutting-edge companies working on green projects. A recent funding round led by BEV secured $12 million for Perth-based Rumin8, enabling it to continue its development work prior to commercializing its supplement.

Rumin8’s supplement is a synthetic version of red seaweed, a foodstuff that’s been found to prevent the creation of methane in a cow’s digestive system. It works by inhibiting a specific enzyme involved in the production of methane as a cow digests its food.

Earlier research using real seaweed produced promising results, but the cows rejected the salty taste, leading some scientists to direct their attention toward more palatable supplements.

“We have been very pleased with the reception we have received from climate impact funds around the world,” Rumin8 managing director David Messina said in a statement, adding, “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.”

Rumin8 isn’t the first company to explore the idea of using seaweed — or a synthetic version of it — to reduce cow burps. Hawaii-based Symbrosia, for example, has been working on a similar idea since 2018, though it uses actual seaweed (with molasses added to eliminate the saltiness) rather than a supplement.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Bill Gates: Things can start returning to normal by June — if we ‘get our act together’
Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates thinks the U.S. may be able to start relaxing coronavirus shutdowns and getting back to normal by the end of May or early June — but doesn't know what that "normal" will look like.

“If we get our act together and if the compliance is very high … by early June, we’ll be looking at some type of opening up,” Gates said in an interview with CNBC Wednesday. “We’re gonna have this intermediate period of opening up, and it won’t be normal until we get an amazing vaccine to the entire world.” 

Read more
Bill Gates will gamble billions to make a potential coronavirus vaccine
Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates

Bill Gates said The Gates Foundation is planning to spend billions of dollars investing in factories for seven potential coronavirus vaccines -- knowing that billions may end up being wasted on treatments that don't work.

The Microsoft co-founder and multibillionaire appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Thursday night to talk about how to best combat the deadly disease, officially known as COVID-19.

Read more
Bill Gates says mass shutdowns are needed to stop coronavirus spread
Bill Gates

Bill Gates predicted coronavirus cases in the U.S. won't peak until at least late-April -- and warned that ending shutdowns early could be disastrous.
"It’s exponential growth if you’re not stopping it," Gates said in an interview on CNN Thursday. "The sooner you engage in the shutdown, the easier it is to get to that peak. We have not peaked."
States across the country have urged people to stay inside and engage in social distancing to reduce the spread of the deadly disease, officially known as COVID-19.

"Never in my lifetime have we had to change our behavior and have this drastic effect on the economy in order to save lives," Gates said.

Read more