AR-News: (Japan) Biomass plant to recycle zoo's animal waste now a
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Tue Nov 11 20:03:13 EST 2003
By ERIKO ARITA
Tama Zoological Park in the western Tokyo suburb of Hino boasts 420 animals
representing 59 species, including elephants, lions and giraffes, and cleaning
up after them is a tall, costly order.
Tama Zoological Park must dispose of some 1,060 tons of animal droppings a
year, including those of its elephants.
Tama Zoo's animals together generate some 1,060 tons of droppings annually,
which cost 30 million yen to dispose of.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which runs the zoo, recently adopted a
plan to recycle the dung in the form of biomass energy to cut disposal costs and
save on the use of fossil fuels.
The plan calls for the animal droppings to be fermented to produce biogas --
methane and carbon dioxide -- for use as fuel.
Tateki Masui, facility section chief of the metropolitan government's
construction bureau, said using biomass fuel from animal dung instead of fossil fuels
can help fight global warming.
"If everything goes well, what we have spent money to dispose of will produce
gas and conserve fossil fuels," Masui said. "We hope we can kill two birds
with one stone."
The project was the brainchild of private-sector companies.
The metropolitan government officially invited private-sector bids in July
for turning dung into energy, and received proposals from 21 companies, Masui
The winner was Kyodoshoji Corp., a beer brewer and distributor of organic
vegetables in Saitama Prefecture.
The metropolitan government and the company will research how to use the
waste, then start producing biogas in an experimental processing plant in 2005,
paving the way for Tama Zoological Park to become Japan's first zoo to recycle
animal dung as biomass energy, Masui said.
Shigeharu Asagiri, vice president of Kyodoshoji Corp., said the company
proposed using the biogas not only to fuel the processing plant but also the "lion
buses" -- the vehicles that allow visitors to get up close to lions roaming in
the zoo's wildlife park.
He said the project can also provide kids with environmental education.
"If we tell children visiting the zoo that the animals make the buses run,
they will want an explanation, and it will be easy to teach them about biomass
energy," he said.
Besides methane, the plant will turn out fertilizer from the liquid waste
that remains after fermentation, he said.
If the fertilizer is used at farms to raise vegetables fed to the zoo's
animals, the recycling project will have come full circle, Asagiri said.
Kyodoshoji has spent eight years developing biomass energy technology,
studying other companies that make biogas plants and consulting a professor in
Germany, where recycling of organic waste into energy is widespread, according to
Last year, the company constructed an experimental biogas plant at its
development center in Saitama, fermenting organic waste such as discarded vegetables
to generate gas, he explained.
Hiroshima University professor Naomichi Nishio, who chaired the metropolitan
government's biomass project selection committee, said the technology for
producing methane from organic waste has reached the practical stage.
For example, most breweries in Japan have been recycling beer production
waste, and dairy farms in Hokkaido have biogas plants to recycle cow dung, he
One problem has been what to do with the liquid waste left over when
producing methane from organic waste, Nishio said.
Although the liquid waste can be used as fertilizer, it is often difficult to
find farms willing to use it.
But Kyodoshoji Corp. has cleared this hurdle. The vegetable distributor has
contracted with farms that will use the waste as fertilizer, he said.
Biomass energy plants are also expensive to operate, but zoos and the
nation's livestock industry can cut the cost for disposing of dung by recycling the
waste, Nishio said.
"I believe there are great possibilities, and thus the use of biomass energy
will spread," he said.
The Japan Times: Nov. 12, 2003
(C) All rights reserved
"I would not enter on my list of friends the man who needlessly sets foot
upon a worm." - Cowper
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the AR-News