The company is working with VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland and is participating in an international research project exploring the use of plasma technology to capture the methane in barn air and break it down into carbon dioxide.
In milk production, methane is generated in the cow’s rumen in conjunction with digestion and in the handling and storage of manure at dairy farms.
The goal of this latest project is to develop equipment that can convert the greenhouse gas methane that is captured from barn air into less harmful carbon dioxide.
Valio’s director Juha Nousiainen, who is responsible for the climate program at Valio, has confirmed to Feed Navigator that if the technology proves to be economically and technically viable, the use could be widespread.
He said: “Here in Finland, the technology would be most likely in use on most of Valio’s dairy farms.”
The target of the project is 90% methane reduction, but Nousiainen said the final impact of this innovation would become clear after the results of the methane measurements in the barn air during winter and summer time, and “when we get the new technological solution working in the barn.”
The plan for this latest innovation is to use cold plasma, which is present in multiple objects such as fluorescent tubes, and catalysts which are used in catalytic converters of cars.
The indoor air from the cattle barn would be collected and processed through the plasma unit, before releasing it to the outside air. The unit would convert the highly dilute methane molecules to CO2, which has far lower global warming potential.
Earlier this year, the research project headed by VTT started measuring and identifying the gas mixture in barn air. The measuring is taking place at Valio’s Arvela dairy farm in Pöytyä, Finland, where there are 240 cows.
Valio has already revealed it is on a mission to reduce methane emissions in its Finnish dairy herd. It anticipates potential methane reduction levels in Finnish dairy of 30 to 40% in the next 15 years.
Valio’s climate program consists of concrete actions to cut milk’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035. This means that an equal amount of greenhouse gases generated in milk production is sequestered by 2035.