Using Your Dog’s Waste As A Power Source

Having multiple dogs I am always interested in hearing how others deal with dog issues, and especially the issue of picking up after them. I don’t rank it as one of my favorite chores – yet.
But if doing it actually saved me money and powered say, my refrigerator, I would feel differently about it. And there is a glimmer of hope!

An engineering firm in England  has developed a race car that runs on a fuel produced from cow manure. There is a Volkswagen Beetle that runs on human waste. And Hewlett-Packard has developed a method using cow poop to power data-centers.

But recently a gas-burning street lamp was installed in a dog park in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Using biodegradable poop bags, the bags are simply dropped into a tube that feeds the “digester.” A handle is cranked a few times to mix the feces with the anaerobic bacteria. This produces methane which is used to keep the flame burning constantly. The photo above shows an above-ground model but the tanks can also be stored below-ground.

Other Advantages

Granted, the family dog is not going to produce enough to power your home, but it may be a viable way to provide power in public places. And theoretically one could also  earn carbon credits by burning methane because it is good for the environment. “Digesters” are fairly commonplace in some parts India, and Africa where the methane is used in stoves and gas lamps. I could see this being part of a city-wide approach in the United States because of the potential cost-saving benefits.

If common courtesy isn’t enough  to motivate people to pick up after their dogs, maybe environmental concerns will motivate a few. Would people start collecting it the way they do aluminum cans for recycling? The going rate for aluminum cans is 31 cents a pound. Makes me wonder what how many pounds my dogs could contribute.

Image Credit: The Spark Park Project

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3 Responses to “Using Your Dog’s Waste As A Power Source”

  1. Sage 20. Sep, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Don’t you just wish someone would come up with a home composter for all our doggie do?

  2. Elizabeth Deitz 20. Sep, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    There actually are a number of composters out there. There is even a model you can use in the house. I have no experience with them and they don’t convert it to methane, but it is worth looking into!

  3. Ken Perry 20. Sep, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    Fascinating concept. Enough dogs and we can power the world!

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