Albert Kahn Associates continues to look for new ways to take care of our environment. Our newest innovative project, the Detroit Zoological Society’s Biodigester, is once again highlighting the creativity of Kahn architects and engineers in partnership with Michigan State University and our environmentally conscious clients. Together, we seek new ways to conserve energy, save money and be responsible citizens of the earth.
The Zoo’s new Biodigester is the first ever built in a North American zoo that uses the animal waste of zoo animals to generate electrical power for the zoo itself. The zoo will no longer manage the removal of almost 400 tons of manure annually to off-site locations for disposal or incur the costs.
The facility is like a mechanical stomach. It is fed with organic material which is broken down (decomposed) by micro-organisms (bacteria) in an oxygen-free (anaerobic) environment to produce a renewable energy called biogas (methane and carbon dioxide). As a simplified description of a highly engineered and scientific process-- the biogas will be converted to electrical power. The new digester intends to generate power for the Ruth Roby Clancy Animal Health Complex with anticipated savings to the zoo of $120,000 annually.