Michigan State University has created the ‘first anaerobic digester at a zoo in North America’, capable of powering some of the zoo’s operations from its animal’s wastes.
MSU researcher Dana Kirk and his team worked with Detroit Zoo to develop the facility, which operates at generates around 100-150 kW. In addition to helping reduce electricity costs, benefits include repurposing animal and food waste and reducing greenhouse gases.
MSU noted that it is internationally recognised for its experience in anaerobic digester research and development. Kirk, an assistant professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering and manager of MSU’s Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center, has lent his expertise and served as the technical lead on a digester in Costa Rica, as well as the digester that powers part of MSU’s south campus. In addition, he has provided training for professionals from a number of African and Asian countries.
“Over the span of more than eight years, we have worked with hundreds of clients around the United States to understand how much energy can be produced from organic wastes,” explained Kirk. “We also have helped stakeholders evaluate technologies, troubleshoot underperforming systems, design and construct pilot digester platforms, and conduct feasibility studies.”
With more than 1.5 million visitors annually, the zoo is helping more people learn about the value of digesters in creating clean energy from readily available resources.
An animated video was created to show audiences of all ages how energy gets created inside the anaerobic digester can be viewed below.
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