Zoo Poo Power: Elephant Dung for Electricity
These days, your average zoo keeper has to worry about funding exciting new exhibits, keeping attendance going with add campaigns, and getting rid of all that crap... wait, huh? Apparently it's true: Zoos across the country are literally up to their ankles in... well, poop. Lucky for all of us, those zookeepers are a crafty bunch. Their latest idea for disposal: Use poo power to keep the lights on...The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY wants to be the first zoo in the US to supplement its energy needs with power from dung. Since they are home to a successful Asian elephant breeding program they have quite a few elephants living together. Their total waste production can top 1000 pounds of dung per day, and the zoo's yearly animal waste costs 10,000 dollars to dispose of. At the same time, much of the waste from vegetarian animals at the zoo is indigestible plant fiber -- a high energy fuel.
Proposed projects involve using the dung to generate methane or hydrogen, and then using that fuel to drive a fuel cell or generator. While the process has worked before at farms around the world, its suitability for use at the zoo is still being evaluated. Whatever the outcome, it's exciting to see people looking at such creative energy alternatives.