Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dedicated to the Suburbs

Recently, President Barack Obama visited Iowa to discuss, among other things, Iowa's contribution to meeting our country's energy needs in an ecologically responsible fashion. In fact, Iowa is "the second largest wind producer in the nation" according to the White House. He was no doubt referring to windmills, but that's only the tip of the iceberg as far as Iowa wind is concerned. My friend Dave the Crazed Engineer and I recently completed our initial design of a radical new invention that will go a long way to both reducing atmospheric pollution and providing a new renewable energy resource for this great nation.

Both being from Iowa originally, Dave and I realized that cow flatulence is a major source of global warming. According to the UN, "[l]ivestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together." This is a bad thing. When cows fart they produce methane, which (according to the same UN report) "warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide". Hmmm, Dave and I thought, it would be great to cut down on cow flatulence to help our lovely planet remain healthy and keep the icecaps from melting which would cause the Atlantic Ocean to annex Battery Park in New York City etc. etc.

Since Dave the Crazed Engineer and I are pretty smart guys, just ask us, we also knew that methane is a combustible gas that can be used as a fuel source. They have in fact built methane-powered energy plants in various places around the world. Wouldn't it be great, we thought, if we could capture and store cow farts so that we could kill two birds with one stone: help combat global warming and give the world a "new" renewable energy source.


Thus it is that we came up with the Cow Tube. How it works is simple: a tractor tire inner tube is placed around the midriff of a cow, beef or dairy, it matters not. The device has a hose that runs from a connector on the midriff tube to a valve stuck into the cow's ass that gates the flatulence into the tube, filling it up as the cow grazes. Eventually, when the cows come home to roost, the farmer "de-gasses" the cows and stores the collected methane in tanks in a process very similar to milking. Periodically, a methane tanker comes by the farm and loads the stored methane, then hauls it off to power the industry that has made the U.S. an economic juggernaut until recently.

Simple, isn't it? I don't think "geniuses" is too strong a word to use to describe the inventors. Not only is the Cow Tube an effective solution to two serious global problems, the device itself is fairly low-tech and can be manufactured in situ and deployed in Third World countries that lack a sophisticated technological infrastructure. Being concerned global citizens, Dave the Crazed Engineer and I understood from the start that this would be an important part of any effective world-wide implementation of our invention. Rupees spend as well as US dollars, we figured, it just takes more of them is all.

The only remaining piece of our device that we have to perfect is the CAV (Cow Asshole Valve). This has to be able to pass solid waste while still capturing the methane gas, otherwise the cow will blow up. We found this out the hard way with our first few trial runs. But the CAV is not beyond our abilities as designers, and we soon expect to have a solution to this small glitch. In fact, we anticipate that the second generation of Cow Tube will have a solid waste collection bin in addition to the midriff tube. It turns out that cow shit is an important source of methane in its own right that we would be remiss in not eventually utilizing. See the Gobar Gas Methane Experiment for more details (Gobar is Hindi for "cow dung").

Also planned for the second-generation Cow Tube is a broad selection of designer colors for the midriff tube, and overpressure valves that ignite surplus methane as it vents. The periodic flares from a herd of cows at dusk should soon become a welcome and heart-warming sight in pastures around the world if we have anything to say about it, although admittedly some care will have to be taken to not incinerate the rest of the herd.

Now that we have solved these critical world problems, Dave the Crazed Engineer and I have plans to go back to killing our brains with cheap beer so that we can converse effectively with the lesser intellects that surround us (and so that I can write further blog entries about monkey vaginae that no one seems to really appreciate). We thought about continuing our invention hot streak by designing a Smart Car that a heterosexual male could drive without shame, but we decided that that would be beyond our abilities so we went with Plan B.

- Hulles

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