The Power of Poop

by Mary Lou on October 13, 2010

Anyone who has walked by a dog poop can in a dog park at the height of a sunny day during the summer, can tell you that there is something “awfully powerful” lurking under the lid.  Now a dog park in Cambridge, MA is harnessing that power to light the park at night. It’s a three month project called Park Spark.  The concept is simple.  Dog owners collect their dog’s poop and deposit it in a tank located in the park to harness methane, which in turn is used to light the park at night.  The tank is actually a methane or biogas digester (video below shows how these work). The park may be small, but the “fuel” supply is ample enough to power the lighting.

The creator of the project is not even a dog-owner. Matthew Mazzotta is a MIT graduate visual artist who turned a $4000 MIT grant and a partnership with the City of Cambridge into a novel and inspiring project that helps us rethink our current waste management.

There is talk that San Francisco might do a similar initiative to collect dog poop throughout the city for conversion into energy.  It started with dog-waste collection carts with biodegradable bags set up in Duboce Park, one of city’s most popular dog parks.

Hopefully the Park Spark initiative will inspire similar projects in parks across the country.  For those of us dog-owners who are welled trained in collecting the raw materials, I’m sure we’d all feel better if this collection effort went towards reducing land-fill and creating greener energy.

UPDATE:  Due to the success of the Park Spark in Cambridge, the project is now being expanded to 6 other cities this spring. Go to the following link  Bring Park Spark to Your City for more info and email instructions on how you can help.

WCVBtv New Coverage of Project:

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How a Biogas Digester Works:

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 paula October 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Great info, now thats what i call going green! I will definately check this out. I live in San Diego and that would be great for our city.

2 Iris Black October 26, 2010 at 5:40 pm

This is really interesting! And it’d be really great to see this spread to more and more parks across the country. A really creative way to put something most people don’t want to think about to good use.

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