The Scoop On Pachyderm Poop
At Germanyâ€™s Munich Zoo, you can watch the courtship rituals of the banded mongoose, hear the morning song of the scarlet ibis or visit the Indian elephants, who help keep the lights on with electricity generated from their poop. They can â€śdooâ€ť this because Munich Zoo has harnessed "poo power" - energy stored in animal waste, which can be converted into a fuel known as "biogas."Â Hereâ€™s how it works - the zoo has built three large containers, each capable of holding about 100 cubic meters of animal waste, or about a weeks worth of dung collected from all the vegetarian animals in the zoo. Once inside the containers, it's mixed with warm water and the bacteria in the dung is left to decompose in an oxygen-free environment for 30 days â€“ yummy!
The resulting biogas rises naturally through vents in the ceiling to a corrugated hut on the roof where it's collected in a big balloon.
The biogas is then fed into a gas-powered engine that's used to generate electricity which is used to warm the gorilla enclosure. And warm gorillas are happy gorillas, right?
A mature elephant can eat about 100 kilograms of fruit, vegetables and pretzels (?) a day, producing a mountain of dung. Â Â All the zoo animals together create roughly 2,000 tons of the stuff every year, or enough to power about 100 Munich households.
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