Instead of milling around aimlessly in pens, as most cows do, William Taylor’s herd is put to work. As they eat, they walk on an electricity-generating treadmill.
Taylor has invented, among other contraptions, a better manure mixer and a pen that prevents cows from kicking vets during medical procedures on his farm in Northern Ireland.
Some studies suggest that cows that exercise make more milk, so Taylor plans to study the system’s health benefits this fall. As a bonus, he speculates that it might cut cattle’s methane problem—cows burp up to 20 percent of the world’s emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas. Humans, he notes, tend to be more gassy if they lounge around. “Helping cows produce less methane while cranking out energy should get them better PR.”
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.