Toronto Zoo to create energy from animal manure
Pigs are seen in front of a biogas plant in Sterksel, south Netherlands, Monday, May 11, 2009. (AP Photot /Ermindo Armino)
Published Monday, June 20, 2011 6:42PM EDT
The Toronto Zoo has announced plans to build a 500 kilowatt bio-gas plant that will turn the manure from its animals into useable energy.
The zoo's board of management voted unanimously in June to partner with renewable energy co-operative ZooShare to build the $5.4-million plant.
With the new plant, all of the zoo's currently composted manure -- and food waste from a major grocery store -- will be processed to create electricity, heat and fertilizer. Zooshare will design, develop and operate the plant on lands leased from the zoo.
The zoo released a statement saying the new power-saving project will be the equivalent of taking about 1,800 cars off the road.
Christine Koenig, a media representative for ZooShare, said the plant is scalable, meaning it can change the amount of energy it creates, depending on how efficiently it is operated. Koenig said the maximum capacity for the plant will be 1 megawatt of power.
She said the zoo has wanted to offset carbon emissions for a couple of years and the plant will be part of its energy and environmental programs.
Koenig said operational costs will be much cheaper than at a traditional energy plant. The animal manure and food wastes such as fat, oil, and grease will be used for their high-energy content.
"It's a biological process, like making beer or wine, but high-tech," said Koenig.
She said the process will involve feeding the plant a continuous stream of organic waste and as a result the plant will need to be built close to the animals because it becomes economically and financially unfeasible to transport the manure from a long distance
She said there shouldn't be any odours coming from the plant.
A private zoo in Hamburg, Germany, is already using a bio-gas plant to convert waste.