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:

 

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