Dog Park Stays Well Lit – With Dog Poop
A Cambridge dog park not only urges its patrons to pick up after themselves, it also tells them exactly where they can stick it: a couple of 500-gallon tanks that collect the generated methane to power a nearby gas streetlamp.
Park Spark is a temporary installation in the dog park, fueled (if you’ll pardon the expression) by a grant from the Council of the Arts at MIT, and spearheaded by artist Matthew Mazzotta.
The park supplies biodegradable bags for scooping. Once deposited in one of the large yellow drums, the combined waste (and some water) begins to break down, releasing methane gas, which is fed to an honest-to-goodness old timey gas lamp to be burned off. A wheel on the first drum allows for any passerby to stir its contents if they feel so inclined.
Biogas, as this sort of methane is known, is already being used in a Vermont dairy farm and a Texas power plant (these larger applications use cow manure). This method of deriving fuel is also popular in developing nations, including India, where Mazzotta was inspired to start Park Spark.
Mazzotta says his ultimate “purpose is to get people thinking differently about what’s around them, including seeing waste as a resource and how to best use the free power it produces.”
If you and your four legged friend would like to go an make a, um, contribution to his efforts, you’ll have to do it soon. Park Spark will be dismantled at the end of the month.
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