UK Street Lamp Unleashes the Awesome Power of Dog Poop
You know how you sometimes find yourself thinking, “These dogs poop so much. Too bad I can’t do anything positive with it.” (Only me?) How if we told you that dog doodie could light up your life… and your neighborhood?
In the United Kingdom, the first street lamp powered solely by dog poop was turned on — a groundbreaking light in the search for sustainable and alternative energy sources.
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Yes, you read that correctly. Poop power. Similar to a compost bin, dog walkers deposit their dogs’ goods in to a designated hatch and then turn the handle. The hatch is an anerobic digester, and microorganisms in the digester break the poop down. This creates methane, and Brian Harper, who invented the UK’s first poop-powered street lamp says that the methane can be fuel for light.
Harper began working on his ligh about three years ago, when he too wondered what could be done with mounds of dog poop he saw all over his neighborhood. He estimated that just 10 bags of poop can keep the light going for two hours a night.
He developed the light with help from the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in an effort to give dog poop value, and thus, allow people to feel good about collecting it and doing something good with it. He hopes they will be able to lure local park managers into bringing the poop-powered lamps into their parks, to bring light and to increase ownership of the power of poop.
The concept of poop as power isn’t new, as humans have been using anaerobic digesters since the 17th century to produce heat and electricity. It simply hasn’t caught on to do so, though, in first world countries where it’s often cheaper or as cheap to use an artificial fossil fuel. Still, doing so wastes the power of poop, and Harper hopes that his light will lead the way for more use and technology.
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Already, citizens of Ontario, Canada are asked to deposit dog poop into centrally located storage units. The units are then emptied and the contents are taken to a central plant where it is broken down to produce methane and electricity. Fertilizer is also created in the process, and this is sold to farmers. Waterloo Director of Environment and Parks Jeff Silcox-Childs says that when loking at the first five months of an 18-month trial, they believe they could generate enough electricity to give power to 13 homes, while taking almost 630kg of Carbon Di
oxide out of the atmosphere.
Silcox-Childs says that while that’s a great perk, the bigger issue would be doing something useful with the dog poop — something that stopped it from filling landfills and/or contaminating recycling streams.
The next time you’re picking up the business from your pet, just think…one day soon, that poop will fuel the future. And that’s not just a load of crap.
More by Lori Ennis