Conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta is using dog feces to power lampposts in a park in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Mazzottaâ€™s Project Park Spark, which was funded through MIT and created in partnership with the City of Cambridge, comprises a special ‘methane digesterâ€ that converts freshly scooped poop into methane.
Dog owners collect their dog waste in a special biodegradable bag and throw it into the digester â€“ an air-tight cylindrical container, where the dog feces are broken down by anaerobic bacteria. A byproduct from that process is methane, which can then be released through a valve and burnt as fuel. In this case it is being used to power an old-fashioned gas-burning lamppost in a park.
The artist is keen to make sure that the energy is used as the community wishes, and so in the next couple of weeks the Park Spark project will be a holding a number of design meetings to gather ideas from the community for how to best use the flame. Suggestions already include a shadow-projection box, a popcorn stand and a teahouse.
Currently when organic material (including dog waste, food and plant matter) goes into landfill, it releases methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is approximately 23 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.
When itâ€™s burned in the presence of oxygen, it separates into carbon dioxide and water vapor, so businesses can actually earn carbon credits from burning off excess methane. As a result, the digesters are a good way to collect and use the volatile gas as a fuel.
In the future Mazzotta hopes to install permanent underground digesters in parks throughout the United States.
Author : Olivia Solon