The energy crisis has prompted research into new ways to exploit alternative fuel sources. One?
The energy crisis has prompted research into new ways to exploit alternative fuel sources. One of them is solar energy, and its use has recently been extended to serve the animal kingdom.
SYNOPSIS: In Japan these tigers are among the exhibits at the Oji Zoo in Kobe to benefit from a new way of using solar energy. It is said to be the first zoo in the world to use solar energy for heating and cooling in the reptile and nocturnal houses. The source of the energy is 223 glass solar collectors which cover an area of 440 square metres (4,700 square feet).
Energy from the sun is one of the most important sources of energy for the earth. However, much of it is reflected back into space by the atmosphere, and in many locations the expense of harnessing this abundant energy source is often too high compared with other fuels that may be available. But here in Kobe many of these problems have been overcome. A network of pipes takes water heated by the solar panels to a central storage area and control room. The flow of water is maintained at 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 27 degrees centigrade) even when summer air temperatures reach 100 degrees (38 degrees centigrade).
A thermostat is all that is required in the animal houses. Once set, the control-room equipment ensures that the temperature is maintained by regulating the amount of water pumped to each location. This is especially important for those that like a tropical environment. And for the human visitors to the zoo, the same equipment runs the air conditioning. The system has been found to be sufficiently flexible to provide for the wide variety of climatic needs of the zoo, and it has attracted the interest of researches interested in solar power exploitation.
The system even copes with the special requirements of nocturnal animals who require carefully controlled daily temperature rhythms. The happy, comfortable and healthy animals here help to keep the zoo popular among visitors to Kobe.