We should all know by now how important it is that we pick up our dog’s poop instead of leaving it on the ground. Dog waste will pollute water, leave harmful bacteria and disease for other dogs and humans, and ruin the day of anyone that happens to step in it. But what kind of things could we do with it after it’s bagged up? Throw it away right? After all, what use could all that old crap have anyway? Well, shockingly, with the amounts that are produced by our ever increasing dog population, that dog waste doesn’t just have a powerful odor, it has quite a bit of actual power too!
We don’t know exactly how many dogs we have in Canada right now, but it is safe to say that we are well into the 3 million territory. Keep that in mind and then imagine that the average dog produces about one third of a kilo of poop per day! It doesn’t sound like that much at first. That is until you really do the math. So let’s see here, 1/3 of a kilo, multiplied by 3 million dogs… WHOA! That’s a million kilos a day, at a conservative estimate!
There is a lot of potential energy in that dog poop. Animal waste in general is a great burning fuel. In places all over the world, dried out animal waste has been used for hundreds of years as a great source for keeping fires going, especially in places where wood is scarce. So what can we do with that? Well, there are places throughout Europe and a few in North America that actually use large scale incinerators to turn waste into energy for hydro! Instinctively, one might think that burning waste would create large scale air pollution, however that isn’t the case at all. The technology within these large scale incinerators (click for link) is actually quite incredible and there is little to no harmful emissions. The end product is actually an incredibly effective hydro generator that also reduces waste going to landfill. The make-up of dog waste, combined with the incredible amounts of methane that it can produce make it a perfect incineration candidate. Just imagine how many homes we could power with nearly 400,000,000 kilos of dog waste!
Incineration for hydro is great, but that’s not the only way of harvesting the energy of poop. By diverting dog waste into a different waste stream, it could be taken to a biogas plant. Biogas is created using an anaerobic biodigester. This technology allows organic waste to be broken down by bacteria in a contained space. When the organic waste is broken down, it produces methane gas, which can then be separated and used as fuel. This system was originally designed to put livestock waste to use, but there is no shortage of dog waste to be put to use too. Check out the test the Mythbusters did with just one cow! (Click for link).
Speaking of the Mythbusters, did someone say rocket fuel? Yes, that’s right, your pooches poop piles actually have the capability to launch an 8 foot rocket a couple thousand of feet into the air. In an episode that the Mythbusters were testing a gummi bear powered rocket (sugar burns well too), Jamie decided to also test if he could power a rocket with dog poop! The poop rocket did surprisingly well (click for link). Launching at high speed, nearly 3000 feet in the air, the poop rocket came up just a little bit short of the control rocket that was launched with traditional rocket fuel. So I suppose there are always more ideas out there for something as full of potential energy as our dogs’ poop, we just have to be innovative enough, and be willing to put in the work. But let’s not forget the very first step of that work, which we can all help with. No matter what we end up doing with all of this poop, the first thing we have to do is pick it up! So when you are out and about with your furry friends, make sure to pick up after them, and if there happens to be a specialized dog waste receptacle bin in your park, put it to good use! Who knows, maybe Fido’s fecal matter might keep your house warm one day. Poop Happens, so let’s put it to good use!