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Cows and Goats: Renewable Energy Source?


Cows and goats already provide us with a lot of great stuff: cheese, milk, soap, butter, etc. But now they might also be able to act as a renewable energy source.

It’s true! The “Cowolt” is still a conceptual design, but the idea is to put a specially-designed blanket on a cow or goat that creates electricity. Designed by Liva Kallite and Netta Korhonen at Helsinki’s Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture, the vest utilizes the difference in temperature between the animal’s body heat and the cooler air around it and turns it into energy. That’s possible? Apparently, yes. See: the Seebeck Effect, which converts temperature differences directly into electricity.

While cows wearing these blankets that resemble life vests might look a little silly, if the idea comes to fruition it could help millions of people worldwide who don’t have reliable electricity. Theoretically, the vest will be able to charge a 12-volt battery in 26 hours (a typical AA battery is about 1.5 volts). This would allow people to power small devices like phones, radios, and lamps.

Check out the official video on the very best in oh-so stylish yet extremely practical bovine/caprine apparel:

The invention could really do a lot of good for cheesemakers around the world who don’t have internet access or a reliable avenue of electricity. By using their animals to help power their operations, they should be able to take on a wide range of new projects and showcase their cheese on a bigger stage.

If you want to read up on the some of the cows and goats that might soon be sporting vests, check out our farm animal section for the lowdown!

[CityLab]

Feature Photo Credit: Raimo Nikkanen

Gabrielle Roman

Gabrielle Roman is earning her Master's in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College in Boston. She is originally from Kansas City and misses the BBQ but the Thai food is good consolation. Her favorite hobby is cuddling with her puppy.