Biodigesters at Como Zoo

by Cadence Peterson | Mar 30, 2013
| 1 Comment

Summary:

I would install methane digesters at the Como Zoo. Methane digesters are anaerobic tanks that digest organic material, such as animal manure. The process of anaerobic digestion allows microorganisms to break down organic material without oxygen. The anaerobic environment kills many of the microorganisms that are found in manure because they require oxygen to survive. This makes anaerobic digestion a very clean form of waste management. The process also produces a rich organic fertilizer and methane gas that can be used for cooking or to heat buildings.
Animals at the Como Zoo produce an abundant amount of organic material and the City should take advantage of this valuable resource. The City could create one large biodigester or several small ones located near individual cages. This would be based on the preferences of the groundskeepers and on available space. The fertilizer produced by this process could be used in landscaping in the surrounding Como Park and in the Saint Paul Conservatory. The methane gas could be used to heat the conservatory. This would save the City money in heating, fertilizing, and disposing of waste over time. The money saved could be used to maintain the biodigesters and to expand the project. Surplus savings could then go towards the general operating expenses of the zoo.
To make the idea sustainable, it would be beneficial to create an interpretive exhibit that would explain the scientific concepts behind anaerobic digestion to children. Children will find the idea of using poop funny and will be interested in the process. The exhibit should provide information as to how families and businesses can incorporate biodigesters into their homes. This information would be especially useful for families with livestock, but the technology could also be applied at restaurants or to managing human waste in households.

About You

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About You

First Name

Cadence

Last Name

Peterson

City

Afton

County

Washington

Country

United States, MN, Washington County

Website (if you have one)

Names of others who helped contribute to my idea

Emily Goellner

How did you hear about the Forever Saint Paul Challenge?

Through my Urban Design coursework.

About Your Organization (if applicable)

Organization Name (if applicable)

University of Minnesota

Organization Phone

Organization Address

City

Organization Country

United States

Your idea

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Title of your idea

Biodigesters at Como Zoo

Give us the highlights of your idea for making Saint Paul great (2,000 characters maximum or approx. 250 words)

I would install methane digesters at the Como Zoo. Methane digesters are anaerobic tanks that digest organic material, such as animal manure. The process of anaerobic digestion allows microorganisms to break down organic material without oxygen. The anaerobic environment kills many of the microorganisms that are found in manure because they require oxygen to survive. This makes anaerobic digestion a very clean form of waste management. The process also produces a rich organic fertilizer and methane gas that can be used for cooking or to heat buildings.
Animals at the Como Zoo produce an abundant amount of organic material and the City should take advantage of this valuable resource. The City could create one large biodigester or several small ones located near individual cages. This would be based on the preferences of the groundskeepers and on available space. The fertilizer produced by this process could be used in landscaping in the surrounding Como Park and in the Saint Paul Conservatory. The methane gas could be used to heat the conservatory. This would save the City money in heating, fertilizing, and disposing of waste over time. The money saved could be used to maintain the biodigesters and to expand the project. Surplus savings could then go towards the general operating expenses of the zoo.
To make the idea sustainable, it would be beneficial to create an interpretive exhibit that would explain the scientific concepts behind anaerobic digestion to children. Children will find the idea of using poop funny and will be interested in the process. The exhibit should provide information as to how families and businesses can incorporate biodigesters into their homes. This information would be especially useful for families with livestock, but the technology could also be applied at restaurants or to managing human waste in households.

Website address (if applicable)

Innovation

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What makes your idea different or unexpected? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

An urban application of an often rural process is unexpected and memorable. Biodigesters are a relatively new technology. The first biodigester was built in India in 1859. Methane digestion became common practice in Europe and Asia in the 20th century. They are still not widely used in the United States, especially in cities. The unique city zoo location would be an unexpected use of the million dollars. Methane digesters are most common on farms because of the obvious practical application. While composting, another form of waste management, is common in cities, methane digesters are far less common. Biodigesters at a local zoo would be an unexpected application that would gain national attention for its unique urban application.

Impact

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This Entry is about (Issues)

How will your idea make a difference in Saint Paul? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

Saint Paul has always had a reputation of being a great place for families. It is appropriate to invest in places , like the Como Zoo, that provide fun educational opportunities for children. In addition to making the zoo more environmentally friendly and reducing the overall operating cost of the conservatory, this project will add educational value to the zoo’s exhibits. Children will have the opportunity to learn about how waste products can be turned into a valuable resource. In addition, the project can serve as a source of pride for the entire community because of its innovative qualities.

Sustainability

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Why do you think people will recognize or remember your idea after it comes to life? How might it inspire others to do something similar in their community? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

The zoo is an ideal location to promote sustainable technologies. It is a public space that is visited by thousands of families and school groups. When people visit the zoo, they will see how the technology works and they will bring that knowledge home with them. Some visitors will be inspired to replicate the system in their own homes, family farms, or other businesses. In addition, the creative application of biodigester technology will show that it is possible to think outside of the box and address environmental dilemmas in creative ways. This is a skill that our children’s generation will require to flourish in a society increasingly challenged by environmental problems.

Diego Salem said: Something should really be happening that could always be anything that would really be true. - Sandra Dyche about this Competition Entry. - 2553 days ago read more >

Cadence Peterson updated this Competition Entry. - 2852 days ago

Cadence Peterson submitted this idea. - 2852 days ago