The waste-to-energy technology turns poop into biofuel
Waste Reduction

Can poop act as a catalyst for eco-friendly change? The Denver Zoo has developed a poop-powered motorized rickshaw. The electric three-wheeler uses biofuel converted from animal poop and human wastes through their engineered gasification system.

The 20 year old tuk-tuk was acquired from Thailand before being modified to convert poop pellets into syngas, which in turn generates electricity for the vehicle. The poop-mobile can travel at 16 km/h while it tours throughout zoos in Colorado Springs, Albuquerque, and Phoenix.

The gasification system is planned to annually convert roughly 90% of human solid wastes and trash, combined with large animal excrement from the Denver Zoo into usable energy. This effectively eliminates over 680,000kg of trash set to be sent to landfills (equivalent to almost 54 double decker buses), while potentially saving up to US$150,000 (equivalent to HK$ 1.17 million) a year on trash hauling costs. Asides from powering the rickshaw, the waste pellets of the system could also charge batteries or fuel heaters.

The plan has received much support from figures such as the Denver City Council, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Renewable Energy Lab, and the Governor’s Energy Office. The Denver Zoo is now seeking external partners to help further optimize the technology, as well as to fund its implementation and deployment. With Denver Zoo CEO stating: “collaborations with external partners will give us the best chance of bringing the waste-to-energy technology to fruition as quickly as possible and in a manner that is consistent with Denver Zoo’s mission and environmental initiatives.”

The Denver Zoo has proven themselves innovators for sustainability, while its staff has further suggested that the patent-pending idea could also be adjusted to apply to numerous other settings, including university campuses or office buildings.


Sources: Denver Post, CNET, BizJournals