Design and test of an artificial reference cow to simulate methane release through exhalation

Liansun Wu*, P.W.G. Groot Koerkamp, N.W.M. Ogink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


To mitigate methane emission from dairy cows, a technique is needed to evaluate individual methane emission from a large number of cows under practical conditions in barns. For developing such a measurement technique, a known reference source that can simulate cow exhalation of methane would be a powerful tool to improve and validate measurement methods. The objective of this research was to design, construct, and test an artificial reference cow (ARC). We built a device that simulated exhaling and inhaling cycles and eructation. The ARC consisted of a cylinder in which methane was injected by mass flow controllers and ejected by a piston in the cylinder. The methane mass balance of the ARC, defined as the difference between the mass controllers imposed input and measured output, was tested under three settings. Methane concentration release patterns produced by five simulated cows were compared to patterns measured from real cows. Average methane concentration in exhaled gas had a mean difference of 2.8% between measured and predicted results. The output methane mass was strongly linearly related to the input methane mass. Methane concentration release patterns produced by the five simulated cows had a sinusoidal curve with similar time interval and comparable methane concentration level as real cows. It is concluded that the ARC properly represented the methane production release, and that the system precisely controlled methane concentration and production. The ARC can be used as a known reference source to develop practical methane measurement methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
JournalBiosystems Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Artificial reference cow
  • Concentration pattern
  • Dairy
  • Mass balance
  • Methane emission


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