A zoo in the UK has become the first to convert animal excrement into energy. It is using ‘briquettes of dung’ to power a new exhibit.
Marwell Zoo will use 600 tonnes animal poo to power its tropical house as part the eco-friendly new scheme.
Biomass technology can be used to generate heat from dung from endangered species such the Grevy’s Zabra, Scimitar Horned Oryx and Somali wild ass.
It all forms part of plans to make the zoo near Winchester carbon neutral by 2022.
Marwell Zoo will use 600 tons of animal poo as part of its eco-friendly scheme to power its new tropical home.
The ‘world’s first’ Energy for Life initiative will help to save 220 tonnes of carbon equivalent each year. One tonne of CO2 equals one passenger’s return flight from Paris, New York.
Every morning, zookeepers clean out the animals’ enclosures and paddocks. Then, the manure and bedding are shredded and dried. Finally, the briquettes are used to fuel a biomass boiler.
The boiler produces hot water which is fed into a 15,000l thermal store and then flows underground to heat the latest exhibit, ‘Energy for Life – Tropical House’.
The new exhibit will include tropical animals such as a Linne’s two-toed Sloth, free-flying birds of the tropical jungle, and crocodile monitor Lizards. It will also feature educational exhibits about energy flow, climate change, and modern living.
The next phase of the biomass system will provide heat to other buildings at the zoo. This will be beneficial to animals like the zebra-like okapi, and a variety apes as well as monkeys in the Life Among the Trees’ exhibit.
The Grade 1 Listed Marwell Hall could also benefit from the renewable energy.
Every morning, the Zookeepers clean up the dung from the animals’ enclosures and paddocks (pictured).
Dr Duncan East is Head of Sustainability. He stated: “Using heat from our animals in this way is unique in the UK, and in the whole world.
“The urgent need for reducing the burning of fossil fuels, and leaving these high carbon sources in nature means that we can’t act soon enough in order to replace the oil-fired heating system in these buildings.
“Previously 600 tonnes of animal waste were taken off-site to compost, with a substantial carbon transport cost.
The mixture of manure, bedding, and other ingredients is shredded, mixed, dried, and pressed into briquettes, which can be used as fuel for a biomass boiler.
The zoo will burn ‘briquettes’ of dung to power a new exhibit combining tropical animals like a Linne’s two-toed sloth, free-flying tropical birds and crocodile monitor lizards with educational exhibits on energy flow, climate change and powering modern lifestyles
“We came up with the idea for biomass heat generation to reduce carbon footprint and transform a waste stream into a valuable resource. This also allows us to achieve cost savings.
Since 2008, the zoo has decreased its carbon output by 77%.
Dr East stated that replacing oil-fired heating systems with heat from animal waste will dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. What better way than to use a material in an abundant and continuous supply?