POO POWER AT CINCINNATI ZOO
Projects to convert agricultural animal waste to biomass energy are becoming familiar but this exciting idea to use zoo poo in the same way is still new.
Interestingly, it is being set up to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standard. Mark Fisher, senior director of facilities and planning, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden: "From now on, every project we undertake will be with LEED certification in mind…This is a long-term, lifetime commitment we're undertaking because of the tremendous cost advantage, but more than that because it's the right thing to do for the planet."
Save money, save the world. It doesn't get better than that. Does it seem too small scale to create significant savings? Fisher: "We have four elephants weighing more than 37,000 pounds and they produce 800 pounds of waste a day. That's at least 20 kw (kilowatts) and enough to heat the elephant house and maybe giraffe house, too (on a daily basis). Right now, we pay Rumpke to haul the waste away, so there's another savings and another plus because we're diverting it from a landfill…Other animals here don't produce like elephants, but the study will look at the rhino, giraffe, other hoofed stock and even tiger output for conversion rates."
The zoo will also collect its gardening waste and visitors’ leftover food for the project. It will not collect human poo.
When the project goes online, it will be where visitors can observe and learn about the process. Charming.
The elephants and giraffes are going to be almost this happy in Cincinnati. (click to enlarge)
Zoo poo won’t go to waste; Elephant, giraffe houses to be fueled by the animals
Jim Knippenberg, January 19, 2008 (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Mark Fisher, senior director of facilities and planning, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden; Jim Lefeld, director of renewable energy, Duke Energy
“Poo Power” is an innovative undertaking by the zoo to turn animal dung into biomass energy. When the project is complete, the elephant and giraffe houses will be heated cooled and lit by the energy generated from the dung. Poo Power is part of a zoo “Go Green” initiative that includes a variety of environmentally conscious improvements.
There are a variety of biomass gasification processes. Here is one. (click to enlarge)
- The biomass energy will not be running the heating for animals’ houses for 2 years.
- A feasibility study of the zoo’s waste resources and the size of the power plant needed will be done first.
- The first hard numbers are expected in Spring 2008.
Denver and Dallas Zoos beginning similar projects.
- The cost savings is expected to be tens of thousands of dollars in the early stages of the project, while the infrastructure pays for itself, and more later.
- Duke Energy and the Ohio Department of Development will put up the $15,000 to $20,000 for the feasibility study.
- Duke sees the project as an opportunity to study small scale biomass waste-to-energy generation, a study which might add to its large scale industrial agriculture projects.
- The poo generate methane gas which will be converted into energy either via a gasification unit or an anaerobic digester. Gasification uses heat. The digester uses microorganisms.
- LEED, a national program, comes from the U.S. Green Building Council. It promotes “environmentally sustainable construction and energy” use. It rates a building as Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. The zoo's education center is the only Silver Certified building in Cincinnati and two points short of Gold.
This is the alternate method of biomass power generation. (cliok to enlarge)
- Fisher, Cincinnati Zoo: "…We realize it's something that will cost us more on the front end but will pay huge dividends as time goes by. Some of the changes we've made or are making will pay for themselves in as little as a year."
- Lefeld, Duke Energy: "The biomass technology is out there and functional, but it has never been done on a small scale…Huge factory farms that produce tons of waste a day use it, but we don't have tons to work with, so one of our first jobs after the study will be to design and build a small unit for smaller-scale facilities."
- Fisher: "At the end of the day…the most important thing is that this is the right thing to do."