November 2, 2015

Biofuel Program Cooking Up At Indy Zoo

Biofuel Program Cooking Up At Indy Zoo

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Zoo is working to reduce its environmental impact with a new sustainability project.  

At the Zoo’s café, Manager Pat Cummings drops an order of fries into the deep fryer.  "The oil we actually use, we turn into the zoo and they use to power their vehicles," Cummings said.

That’s the gist of a new program that’s fueling the zoo’s conservation mission.  It has been working with Cummins for about five years to create the biodiesel initiative, and just recently produced its first couple batches to fuel the small utility vehicles it uses. 

Nora Fletchall, supervising VP of operations for the Indianapolis Zoo, says the project is in line with the zoo’s mission to encourage people to live greener lives.

"We want to be a model for that, so this is a program that helps us to talk to the public about what we are doing but also engage them in conversations about what they can do as well,"  Fletchall said.

Behind the scene’s at the zoo’s fuel station, Jack Bow, Indy Zoo’s director of facilities, says the process is pretty simple.

"We’ll pump it into our processor, we’ll add our catalyst to go with it, basically methanol and potassium hydroxide, it’s heated up and then eventually it will turn into the biofuel we’re using," Bow said.

Right now the fuel, which has to be mixed with regular diesel, is only being used in a few vehicles, but the project has the potential to produce more than 500 gallons of biofuel every year.  The zoo uses about 4,000 gallons of diesel a year. 

The initiative is one of numerous green projects like electric car re-charging stations, green energy usage and recycling that the zoo has implemented to create conservation awareness.

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