Dogs are great--until their poop gets all over your new shoes. Even when dog owners responsibly dispose of dog waste, the excrement continues to generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas. That's where the Park Spark project, billed as the first public methane digestor for dogs, comes in.
Unveiled this week in a Cambridge, Massachusetts, dog park, the project consists of a digester that creates burnable methane gas, which in turn powers a lamppost on site. All dog owners have to do is deposit their waste (placed in specially designed biodegradable doggie bags) into a feeding tube, turn a hand crank, and voila: Energy is available to juice up the lamp.
Eventually, the Park Spark team hopes to extend the project to power other objects in the community--shadow projection boxes, tea houses, or even popcorn stands (poop corn?). The digester will never generate enough energy to power, say, a whole block of streetlights, but that's not the point. If Park Spark can demonstrate to community members that waste is a precious resource, it will have fulfilled its goal.