When you run a zoo, we imagine there's a large quantity of animal excrement to dispose of. Fertilizer is the first thing that comes to mind. But there are only so many zoo gardens in need of nutrients. Sooner or later, you're faced with surplus of tiger turds, camel crap and snake, um, shizzle.
The Denver Zoo has decided the best use of its panda poop is to power a 20-year-old tuk tuk, or motorized rickshaw. Actually, the zoo takes all its animal waste and most human-produced trash and makes "gasified pellets" that are then subjected to very high heat in a no-oxygen environment. The pellets then give off syngas, which is burned in a generator to produce electricity used to charge the batteries for the tuk tuk's electric motor. Got all that?
The zoo says the tuk tuk is its second prototype to test the technology. The first was a syngas-powered blender used to make margaritas for zoo events. Mmmm. Tasty.
When its new elephant exhibit opens June 1, the zoo hopes to have it powered by syngas. Eventually they hope to take 100% of the zoo's animal waste and most of the human garbage from the zoo to produce at least 20% of their power needs. Check out the video after the jump.