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ParkSpark: Artist Turns Dog Poop into Power

by Morgan Clendaniel

Cambridge, Massachusetts (my home town) seems to be doing a lot of cool things these days. They have recently installed a work by conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta: a streetlight powered entirely by dog droppings, called the ParkSpark Project.

It works simply: You put the dog poop into the large container, where it is digested by bacteria, creating methane gas, which can then be used to light a lamp. Biogas digesters like this are often used on landfills or for large amounts of cow manure, but it's unusual to see it on such a small, human scale.

Dog parks, as you know if you've ever been to one, create a lot of excrement. This new street light helps people connect their actions to the larger power system (poop in equals power out). But more importantly, it highlights the idea that there are potential energy sources all around us. If we're going to use much less oil, there isn't going to be a one-stop solution. It will be a combination of every available scrap of energy, from wind to solar to, yes, dog poop.

Photos by Matthew Mazzotta.

This post originally appeared on GOOD.

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This is fascinating and i think we should all support these kinds of alternative energy sources innovations. With the energy crisis we are facing, anything eco-friendly is much appreciated.
We can all make this world a better place to live if we think green
Make A Generator

Posted by: Mautea on 27 Sep 10

Has worldchanging ever covered Cambridge's Home Energy Efficiency Team ( which started doing monthly weatherization barnraisings over two years ago? I know that the dog poop methane installation is cool and in my neighborhood but isn't a weatherization barnraising more replicable? Especially since HEET has a barnraising manual on its website and more than 25 groups around MA and as far away as NY and RI have begun since HEET started?

I think dog park methane is an interesting project but I think weatherization barnraisings are essential.

Posted by: gmoke on 27 Sep 10

electric cars powered by poop.. America finds energy independence at last!

Posted by: konstantinos m on 27 Sep 10

wow that's nice.. power poop. that will help conserving energy.

Posted by: irissati on 28 Sep 10

I attended a stormwater workshop and the topic of dog poop came up - it is a major urban water pollutant but apparently some people hav issues with dog poop filling up landfills - this might be a cool solution at least for dog parks.

Posted by: Max on 28 Sep 10

Whilst a great idea it is currently only realistic as an "art concept". Maybe on a larger scale it would be cost effective.

Having a central digester to power multiple lights or even produce heat for a greenhouse/hothouse.

What about the plastic bags though, are they provided as specially biodegradable? What happens if people start putting in any old plastic bag that they have brought from home?

Free Solar Panels

Posted by: theGreenMan on 3 Oct 10

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