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 percent of the zoo's animal waste and most of the human garbage from the zoo to produce at least 20 percent of their power needs. Check out the video after the jump.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      Letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      The city of Charleston, SC, recently decided not to allow battery-powered Tuk-Tuks to be used by visitors on the city streets. Unfortunately, they are taking the law too far, and are now threatening NEV use by locals. "City officials have drafted an ordinance specifically written to ban the use of the wagons in any fashion, alongside other forms of outlawed low-speed, electric-powered vehicles, such as golf carts. Mayor Joe Riley (D) said safety questions about the door-less tuk-tuks, combined with their appearance in historic districts and neighborhoods, would negatively "contribute to a theme-park atmosphere." The city's Police Department also is against them, he said. " http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2012/mar/08/will-tuk-tuks-find-home-on-charlestons-streets/ http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2012/mar/09/local-state/
        paulwesterberg
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        And we don't want people to think the city is a theme-park, they might see it as a leisure time destination where they can relax enjoying the fresh air and quiet surroundings, taking in the sights and spending their money at outdoor restaurants.
      marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have recently completed installing a Bio-mass generator, that converts subterranean methane, and agricultural waste, into electricity. The Bio-mass project produces enough electricity to provide a substantial proportion of electricity required to run a small village and estate, as well as several Ev's and electric farm vehicles. In conjunction with some Solar, we have installed our own mini-grid. the entire project should have repaid the cost of installation within 12 years. The biggest savings come from replacing diesel, or gasoline. In the right circumstances Bio-mass electricity generation can prove very rewarding.
      marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have recently completed installing a Bio-mass generator that converts subterranean methane, and agricultural waste, into electricity. The Bio-mass project produces enough electricity to provide a substantial proportion of electricity required to power a small village and farming estate, as well as several Ev's and electric farm vehicles. In conjunction with some Solar, we have installed our own mini-grid. The entire project should repay the cost of installation within 9 years. The biggest savings are replacing diesel/gasoline. In the right circumstances, bio-mass electricity generation can prove very rewarding, and environmentally beneficial.
      Zoya Jackson
      • 3 Years Ago
      Its an great job i must say and thanks to you for sharing such information. http://goatrade.com/
      carney373
      • 3 Years Ago
      Syngas should be used to make methanol fuel, then used in fully flex fueled cars.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      More relevant to the article - the next step would be to utilize the syngas in a fuel cell instead of burning it. Double to triple the efficiency right there...
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Doesn't the Carbon Monoxide content in Syngas poison the membrane in the fuel cell. I thought impurities were still a systemic problem for FCs that was only solved by keeping impurities (moisture in particular) out of the stack. Did I get that wrong? Thanks.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          It depend on the type of fuel cell. My thoughts are to use the syngas in a stationary SOFC that can then be used to charge the batteries in an electric tuk-tuk, as well as providing electrical power to the zoo. If they were going to use a hydrogen PEM fuel cell on board the tuk-tuk, then yes, they would need to purify the syngas to pure hydrogen by removing all impurities.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Ah... stationary to charge a battery EV. Makes the most sense.. provided it is cost effective vs. selling the gas and buying grid power. It would be a great idea.
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