Everyone who has a dog knows the joys of picking up their waste and disposing of it in the trash. It’s a stinky, smelly business, that no one enjoys doing. But, that could be changing. At a Cambridge, MA dog park as part of a month long test, dog owners are provided with biodegradable bags to pick up the poop and deposit it a tank that converts the waste into methane gas. The methane gas created from the poop is lighting a street lamp in the park. San Francisco toyed with a similar idea, but decided to abandon it due to concerns over health issues. The methane lamp poop project in Cambridge was funded with a $4000 grant from Council of the Arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After the dogs do their business, signs on the tanks instruct owners to use biodegradable bags supplied on site to pick up the poop and deposit it into the left tank. People then turn a wheel to stir its insides, which contain waste and water. Microbes in the waste give off methane, an odorless gas that is fed through the tanks to the lamp and burned off. The park is small but has proven busy enough to ensure a steady supply of fuel. Artist Matthew Mazzotta came up with the idea from his travels to India and saw people there using poop in so-called “methane digesters” to cook food. If the pilot test program proves successful, Cambridge has indicated that they could see utilizing such a program through out the town.
Photo: Artist Matthew Mazzotta and his poop tank