Necessity and creativity indeed is the mother of inventions. Brian Harper, a UK based inventor recently developed a method to turn his dog’s poo into methane gas to illuminate the streetlights. Poo is being used as fuel all over the world from Canada to India. There is nothing more disgusting than witnessing dog’s poo in the street when the lazy owners don’t bother to pick it up properly. But now that disgusting poo will be lighting the street lights very soon.
There is a saying that if something bothers you and you can do anything about it to change it, do it. Brian Harper was probably sick of seeing dog poop on his walkway so he decided to find a proper solution for it which has a huge potential as well. He invented a method to illuminate the street lights using dog’s feces as fuel and developed the first dog poo-fueled street light.
Harper said that he was frustrated seeing poo bags tied to fences and foliages in his locality. He had taken an engineering degree so he applied his training to the problem and created a system that will use 10 bags of poo to power a street light for two hours. The method is simple, dog owners can drop their dog’s poo into a container and turn a handle. The poo is then transformed into methane using the process of anaerobic digestion.
Harper told, “The gas light captured people’s imagination and shows them dog poop has a value. As a result, we get it [poo] off the ground, into a receptacle, and producing something useful.” Harper is not the first person to see the potential in poo. There is a project running in Massachusetts (US) called Park Spark that also uses dog poo to power park lamps.
Canadian politicians are now considering a scheme that will encourage the dog owners to place their dogs poo into special concrete receptacles. Its contents will be composted along with other forms of organic waste for the production of methane. The by-product fertilizer obtained from the process will then be sold to farmers.
If this project further develops, it can generate enough electricity to power about 13 standard homes. It is not a lot of power but we can still benefit from it. Another goal to run this project is to remove the high containment dog poo from public areas and sideways. Jeff Silcox-Childs, Waterloo’s director of environment and parks said, “Collecting dog waste separately prevents it contaminating our recycling streams, allowing us to divert both away from our landfill sites.”
India is one of those countries that adopted the poo power very early. Small household biodigesters that extract biogas from cow dung is very common in rural areas. The idea was opened on a large scale to include human waste in the project. The country hopes to put an end to open defecation in the country by 2019. The Social Enterprise group Sanitation and Health Rights in India (SHRI) is building toilets inside the communities for free. The collected sewage from the toilets will be put in a biodigester to produce methane. The methane obtained from the process then powers a groundwater pump. Water collected is filtered and made available to the community at a minimal cost. The initial investment of the toilet blocks is covered in it. Next time when you go to poo, think of all the potential that your poo carries in it!