What is the worst part of walking your dogs? Is it the poo collecting process and bringing the poo anywhere you go? Well, possibly in the future you will just let your dog poo near the streetlamps, because that’s the energy those streetlamps need to light up.
Yes, a new invention utilizing dog poo as a source of energy has been brought up by Brian Harper, a simple man from Malvern Hills, England. Although using turds as source of energy is not a new thing, but this is maybe a good sign that turds can be used for simpler daily uses.
The special thing from this streetlamp is that it can give sufficient amount of lights to light up the dark alley, not only just a dim light. Imagine those lamps are placed in the parks or around your neighborhood, so your dogs can contribute to energy saving.
Story Of The Invention
Three years ago, while walking with his dog in an iconic landscape near his neighborhood, Harper found out some poo-filled bags being left in the area. It made him thinking how to make sure the bags are collected into one specific place and bring some benefits.
Harper said that he once saw an art installation in Boston, United States five years ago about “poo energy”. “I looked and I thought this is a crazy way. There must be a way of trying to give dog poo a value so people would do something sensible with it,” he said to BBC.
He then worked on a project to make use of those poo so that in the future people will definitely collect the bags in one place and feel the benefits of collecting those. A lamp that is fueled by dog poo was the answer, and he did some study to make one.
The result is outstanding, he created a streetlamp that can light up for two hours when fueled with 10 bags of dog poo. He placed the lamp outside his house which is on the main access to enter the Malvern Hills beautiful landscape.
Thus, people visiting the natural landscape with their beloved dogs doesn’t need to worry about carrying bags filled with poo anywhere they go. Those people can simply deposit it in the dog poo tank outside Harper’s house. Today, Harper owns the first poo-powered streetlamp in United Kingdom.
How The Lamp Works
To make the lamp works, first the owners should let the dogs do what they do. The owners then can collect the result in a free paper “poop scoop” bags. Those things in the bags are then being deposited into a tank under the lamp.
The tank is not an automatic device, yet, so the owners should rotate a handle provided on the side of the tank five times to make the bio digester inside the tank breaks down the dog poo. The result of the process is 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide. The byproduct is fertilizer that can be used to fertilize Harper’s garden.
Those gasses are stored in a container that have a timer attached to it. The timer makes sure that the amount of energy is sufficient to light up the lamp and the lamp only turns on when it gets dark. When the dusk comes, the timer releases the gas stored and ignites it, so the lamp turns on.
The lamp has stood and been functional in front of Harper’s house since November 2017. “The public have a very sensible place to put it. They aren’t carrying it away, they can see dog poo is very useful and the light helps them if they’re coming down of the hill later in the evening,” he said to BBC.
This project has been noticed by Malvern Hills Area and Outstanding Natural Beauty which gave some fund to Harper to elaborate this project. Now, Harper dreams to bring his project to wider range of area so that people are no more littering beautiful landscapes with bags of dog poo.
Not The First “Crappy” Project So Far
The idea of turning dog poo into energy that Harper brought up is maybe a new thing for us, and the first in United Kingdom. But local politicians in Ontario, Canada also have similar thoughts about converting dog poo into source of energy.
People who walk their dogs in three parks in Ontario are asked to a concrete deposit unit which are regularly being emptied by trucks from large central plants. There, the poos are processed with other organic materials to produce methane and fertilizers.
“Collecting dog waste separately prevents it contaminating our recycling streams, allowing us to divert both away from our landfill sites,” said the Waterloo’s director of environment and parks, Jeff Silcox-Childs to Guardian.
Being done for more than five months, data showed that the amount of methane collected from the project could power up to 13 houses and remove 630 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The project has now passed a third of its 18 months trial to see further benefits.
Not Only From Dog, But Also From You
Overall, people have recognized feces keeps its potentials to be a source of energy. Since Neolithic era, human had started to make use of animal feces for fuel. And since 17th century, people had found out ways to get flammable gasses from organic materials.
Along with harper, feces have been used as energy sources in many places in the world. Not only from dog poo, but human feces are being used in India. Sanitation and Health Rights in India (SHRI) turned human feces as a source of methane to power groundwater pumps.
With $30,000, SHRI built 16 blocks of toilets that can be used freely by people. The sewage from the toilets then being broken down by bio digester to produce methane. This methane is the fuel to power the groundwater pumps which are pumping water to the surface.
The water pumped is then filtered, bottled, and then sold commercially. The result is a half rupee bottled water that can be consumed by public in India. The money made from selling the water is told to be able to fund half the maintenance cost of this project.