Its taken years to get pet owners to clean up after their dogs (I still have to dodge small sidewalk bombs on my morning runs). But in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the city is encouraging people to dump dog waste into a specially designed holding tank where it will be converted into methane to power a street lamp!
The Park Spark Project offers a basic lesson in renewable energy – use what we already have! Not only does the project showcase the power of untapped energy resources, but it also prevents the creation of harmful greenhouse gas emissions at landfills where pooch poop usually ends up. Most dog owners throw their dog excrement into a garbage bin. When the garbage is collected and transported to a waste facility, it decomposes into methane which is released into the atmosphere.
Located at the Pacific Street Park in Cambridge, the Park Spark Project involves a public methane digester and piping from the tank to the adjacent gas-burning lamppost which runs on methane from Fido’s excrement. Its very easy to operate: simply take your dog waste and place it in the biodegradable bags available for use. The digester is buried underground (to minimize smell and the “yuck” factor). A tube and hand-crank above grade allow pet owners to feed the tank and stir the mixture underground.
The creator of the Park Spark Project hopes that the “eternal flame” of the lamp post will burn as a monument until someone proposes another idea for use of the flame.
The Park Spark Project was funded through MIT, and in partnership with the City of Cambridge.
Who knew we could use pooch poop for the public good?