This always happens. You get a bunch of cows together, and it's moo, moo, moo. The next thing you know, boom. They raise the roof. Howdy, heifers. This is D News. I'm Trace. Dateline January 27, 2014. A barn in Rasdorf, Germany containing 90 cows was rocked by an explosion. And a buildup of methane gas was the culprit. The roof was damaged, and at least one cow needed to be treated for burns. A static charge produced by a cow massaging machine set off the methane explosion, leading this reporter to ask, what the heck is a cow massaging machine? And how can methane cause such a big explosion? First, cows produce a lot of methane. You've probably heard that it can be more damaging than CO2. The planet has 1.5 billion cows, and they emit methane as they digest their food in their four stomachs. The bacteria living within cows help them break down the grass, but create methane, ammonia and other gases in the process. Estimates vary, but experts believe a single cow can produce approximately 100 to 500 liters of methane per day, or about as much pollution as the average car.
You might associate methane gas with fart smell, but you'd be wrong. Methane is odorless, colorless. It's lighter than air. And it's flammable. Industry adds sulfur smell to help identify gas leaks. But with cow farts, I mean, they already kind of– well, they kind of smell. Anyway, with 90 cows in a barn, their butts could produce as much as 45,000 liters of methane in a day. That gas would then float to the top of the barn, especially if the barn didn't have proper ventilation. By some estimates, methane gas is combustible at concentrations as little as 5%. So without knowing the size of the barn, I can't really tell you much more than that. But hey, the boom happened. We know. Explosions like this happen more often than you'd think. Methane is suspected to have caused an explosion earlier this year at a waste water treatment plant, last August in a Mexico office building, and inside a New Zealand mine in 2010. This is by far, however, the stinkiest. But at least no one was hurt. Coal miners have to worry about methane, too.
Rocks contain 100 to 600 cubic feet of methane for every ton of coal being mined. Being lighter than air but trapped in a mine shaft means the methane displaces that air and can cause suffocation. It's real dangerous, y'all. But it can also be useful. Aside from blowing up German barns, methane is used as a fuel to create heat and light in homes and commercial buildings. And then on a larger scale, methane can be used to generate electricity. 87% of natural gas is methane. It's also used to make industrial chemicals, and in the garment, automotive, and plastics industries. Most farmers have specialized barns that stop methane buildup by letting it float up into the atmosphere out of the barn. But more enterprising and environmentally conscious animal farmers capture methane to sell as energy. So, though it can be considered environmentally harmful, it can blow up a barn, it's not entirely useless. It's actually a rather valuable gas, when used properly. So are you worried about cow farts destroying the planet? Tell us what you think. And thanks a lot for watching D News today.
And, if you're a fan of animals that can blow stuff up, Furrocious is a new show on Animalist where the cute and cuddly can kill you. Do you know what catnip is? Catnip is bath salts for cats. So what you're going to do is you're going to bring this little inbred, junkie, carnivorous, bloodthirsty, freeloading, disease ridden beast into our domicile. And that's why we can't get a Persian cat. Check it out on animalist.com, and subscribe if you like it. And don't forget to subscribe here for more D News videos every day of the week. .