A face mask for cows that neutralises the climate-heating gas methane in their belches has won a design award from Prince Charles and designer Sir Jony Ive.

Students from the Royal College of Art (RCA) were tasked with designing projects that reverse the damage humans are doing to the climate and nature.

Out of 125 submissions, four teams of RCA students and alumni have been chosen as the winners of the inaugural Terra Carta Design Lab competition, receiving £50,000 in funding to help further develop their ideas.

Among the four winning designs was a harness for cattle to convert their methane emissions into CO2 and water vapor in real time, created by design group Zelp (Zero Emissions Livestock Project).

Read more: Regenerative farming ‘could slash emissions equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road’

Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere – so cutting it is a powerful way to slow warming in the short term.

The world’s 1.5 billion cattle, each producing up to 500 litres of methane a day, are significant contributors to global warming. The majority is emitted through their belching, but some also comes from their flatulence.

"We can all have good ideas," said Sir Jony Ive, award judge and chancellor of the Royal College of Art.

He called it "reassuring, particularly facing the overwhelming challenge of climate change, that we can all contribute
ideas that could evolve into valuable solutions".

The Aerseeds team also won funding to develop their aerodynamic nutrient and seed pods made from food waste, which they say can accelerate regeneration up to 10 times.

The pods can be scattered in the wind to cover large areas and reach difficult terrain, to deliver nutrients and seeds to soils depleted by human activity, for ecological restoration and reforestation.

Fellow winners The Tyre Collective are developing a device to capture microplastics shed from tyres, and are exploring ways to upcycle the waste material for new uses.

Meanwhile, AMPHITEX won backing from Terra Carta for designing "the first 100% recyclable and chemical-free outdoor performance textile," made from recycled and plant-based materials.

Current waterproofs are almost impossible to recycle and contain Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) that linger in the environment.

Greg Jackson, founder & CEO of Octopus Energy Group and Terra Carta Design Lab judge said: "Many of the biggest problems the human race ever had to face were solved by ingenious ideas.

"Technology and design are vital in driving change and tackling today’s issues, and the climate crisis is no exception to this – this is a design challenge."

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