by , 06/19/07

dog poop power, methane gas power, green electricity, renewable energy, dog poop energy, san francisco dog poop energy project, duboce park

Anyone who’s ever spent time in San Francisco (and perhaps stepped in a stinky patch in Duboce park) knows that this is a city that loves its dogs. So much so that dog poop is a real issue in terms of urban cleanliness — pet feces currently makes up nearly 4 percent of San Francisco’s residential waste! So its about time then, that someone came up with the brilliant idea to put San Francisco’s dog poop to work and find a better use for it than simply filling up garbage cans (and getting stuck on people’s shoes). The forward-thinking environmentally-friendly city will be the first in the nation to use dog feces as a renewable energy source through the production and combustion of methane gas.

6,500 tons of dog poop is produced in the San Francisco Bay Area every year. Rather than view this waste as a problem, San Francisco’s waste management contractor, Norcal Waste, saw this as an opportunity for the already environmental city to go a bit greener. Since January 2006, Norcal has been collecting dog feces throughout the city and now has dog-waste collection carts with biodegradable bags set up in Duboce Park, one of city’s most popular dog parks.

The poo-to-energy scheme works like this: the pet poop is first put into an anaerobic digester, which uses bacteria to convert organic waste into methane gas. Burning that gas produces energy in the form of electricity, natural gas, and liquefied natural gas. This gas is then captured and used to power equipment that normally runs on natural gas, such as a kitchen stove or a heater. The 2 week long “digestion process” also produces valuable compost for agriculture.

Despite the chuckles this project may elicit — it will provide a very tangible benefit to San Francisco by helping the city reach its goal of diverting 75 percent of its waste from landfills by 2010, also providing a clean new energy source! The city piloted another innovative bio-recycling program in 1996, collecting food scraps from houses and restaurants and turning them into fertilizer for local farms and vineyards. This project was very successful and still continues to this day.

+ Clean Energy and Clean Shoes in San Francisco

+ Recycling in San Francisco takes a dirty step forward

+ S.F. Company Plans to Turn Dog Poop Into Power

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    ok. im here to find out how to make puppy powered heat source… I keep looking for the instructions on how to make it and what and where i need to get bacteria from .. IM goint to build a large scale system to power my new house and future power using muppet ( dog ) and people across the feilds cow crap…. I will repost the tryals of systems as i work on it … thanks for the posting and also there was a show on tv that was about a place in india that the entire town is heated on this system

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  8. Christopher P. June 21, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    So, how much energy is consumed picking up all the little decentralized bits of Fido doo? In other words is this a net energy gain, and is there a comparative carbon offset analysis for this localized endeavor? Fashionable, yes, but really meaningful?? Picking up your dog’s crap and flushing it down the toilet, just like any other member of your household, and THEN processing for the methane at the central facility, makes more sense….

    Cows are another issue altogether. Big reliance on meat and dairy in our national diet leads to mega-dairies, which produce huge amounts of methane waste, which pollutes the atmosphere and the water table. If we must run our labor force on meat and milk products, capture that methane….

  9. Alison Vaughan June 21, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Sending this from the depths of Cornwall in the UK, but we get the same problems in our towns as well as other ones in the countryside and coastal paths (impact on farm stock with eye infections etc, changing conservation habitats through enrichment – see “Did You Know section on my website). Local authorities do provide dog waste bins in towns and popular walking areas, but this currently goes to hazardous waste disposal sites upcountry. This sounds a great idea, and I know our local waste authority is about to commission a couple of anaerobic digesters. These take animal by-products as well as farm slurry, and as well as the energy from waste aspect, the material left is fit for use on land.

    If you are really dedicated to the proximity principle of dealing with waste, there are such things as dog composting loos if you have a garden, or you can use one of the home-sized anaerobic digesters like the Green Cone. Combined with biodegradable dog poop bags, you probably have the best environmental option.

  10. Steve Sarver June 21, 2007 at 10:58 am

    We have developed a water soluble waste bag made from poly vinyl alcohol (FlushEze).. These bags can be flushed in the toilet, not thrown in the trash. We have a bag carrier that holds the box of new bags with a separate pouch for the used bags so you don’t have to finish your dog walk carrying a bag of poop.

    We also have a flushable pet toilet that attaches to the clean out on your house to dispose of pet waste into the sewer where it should be … not in the garbage using your pooper scooper.

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  12. Christopher June 20, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    @Greg McBee

    Did you even read the article?
    Nobody said anything about using dog waste for use of food crops.
    Where did that come from?

  13. Greg McBee June 20, 2007 at 8:47 am

    For every reference you can find saying you can compost dog waste for use on food crops, I can find 10 that advise against it. It just doesn’t work. Feces from herbivores like sheep, cows and horses works well. Feces from carnivores like cats and dogs isn’t suited to composting for use as fertilizer on food crops.

  14. Ben N June 19, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Dog waste is only the beginning. Anaerobic digesters are capable of digesting just about anything organic as long as the feedstock is prepped adequately. ( Yard waste and food scraps can go through the same biogas recovery process before they are composted.

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