Denver Zoo acknowledged that they have a lot of poo on their hands, but rather than hauling their waste off to a landfill or compost, they developed their own on-site poo-power system! They’ve applied the technology to create a poo- and trash-powered rickshaw as they promote plans to utilize their own patent-pending poo-power gasification technology to offset 20 percent of the zoo’s total energy consumption. The zoo plans to convert 1.5 million pounds of poo and waste into energy each year using gasification, recycling all animal droppings and 90 percent of solid waste produced by visitors and employees. The rickshaw is the zoo’s second electronic test-subject for the technology, having first tested out their waste-made energy on a margarita mixing blender!
So it’s pretty clear that the folks over at the Denver Zoo have a green conscience and a good sense of humor, but how does their technology work? According to the Denver Post, the zoo began work on the technology some eight years ago as they began to explore ways to reduce their energy consumption. They hired a team of three engineers who meticulously analyzed the waste generated within the zoo, and developed an on-site waste stream to compact the waste into pellets before being ‘gasified’ — or thermally broken down — to release gases that can themselves be used as fuel “to charge batteries and fuel heaters, pumps and other machinery that requires energy.”
Not only will the process reduce Denver Zoo’s environmental impact, it will also reduce their costs. With the entire system maintained on site, it is reported that they will save $150,000 in trash and compost hauling each year. As for the rickshaw itself, the zoo purchased the vehicle from Thailand and converted it with an electric motor to run on fuel from the gasification process. Believed to be the first poo-powered tuk tuk, it will serve as a fantastically curious ambassador for Denver Zoo’s green energy initiative as it tours the western states between now and June.
You can check it out in action in this video.