Courtesy: Denver Zoo

A three-wheeled rickshaw powered by animal waste, courtesy of the Denver Zoo.

The Denver Zoo unveiled a poo-powered tuk tuk this week, the first of its kind. It's part of an almost decade-long effort to use the zoo's waste for good. As a Denver Post article explains:

This idea — which is now patent pending — began eight years ago during the early planning for the Elephant Passage. Cutting down energy use was a priority, and as a result, a three-person engineering team was commissioned to develop alternative options. It started with consumption analysis.

"These guys spent a lot of time in Dumpsters figuring out what kind of trash we produce," Barnhart said.

Eventually, the zoo developed a system to convert human garbage and animal feces into gasified pellets. These can be used to charge batteries and fuel heaters. A couple of years ago, the zoo used them to power a blender at a margarita event. This week, they unveiled a three-wheeled rickshaw (which they bought from Thailand), re-engineered to run on the pellets.

Thanks to this new technology, the zoo estimates that it will be able to convert 90 percent of the zoo's waste into usable energy, eliminating 1.5 million tons of trash annually (and saving $150,000 in hauling costs). The system should be complete in the fall.

Check out the tuk tuk in action below:

 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a tiny house in Oregon
    Design

    How Amazon Could Transform the Tiny House Movement

    Could the e-commerce giant help turn small-home living from a niche fad into a national housing solution?

  2. The downtown St. Louis skyline.
    Perspective

    Downtown St. Louis Is Rising; Black St. Louis Is Being Razed

    Square co-founder Jack Dorsey is expanding the company’s presence in St. Louis and demolishing vacant buildings on the city’s north side.

  3. A portrait of Jay-Z.
    Equity

    The Roots of Jay-Z’s ‘Black Capitalism’

    Now partnering with the NFL, Jay-Z centers wealth-building in his activism, as many African Americans have before him—but without much success.

  4. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  5. Environment

    What U.S. Cities Facing Climate Disaster Risks Are Least Prepared?

    New studies find cities most vulnerable to climate change disasters—heat waves, flooding, rising seas, drought—are the least prepared.

×