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Pooch Park Powered by Poop

Park Spark project

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.

[Park Spark]

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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2 Comments

  • Tex

    Love it as a representation of how biodegradable materials can be used to harvest energy, but on many levels, we already do this. When you throw your dog's poop in the trash, it ends up in a landfill. Nearly half of the landfills in the united states harvest gas for energy and heat. Its sustainable. That's what all those spigots on those "hills" are doing. The open landfill is sealed with a plastic barrier and harvested for years. And once its harvested, they usually turn those hilly areas into parks, because you can't build on it, but they make nice parks.