For millennia, mankind has utilised dung as a fuel, combusting it for heating, as well as the more commonly known applications as fertiliser. But a bright spark in Worcestershire’s Malvern Hills has now created the UK’s first dog poo powered street lamp, illuminating a well-known beauty spot whilst helping keep its public footpaths and benches free of stools.

Brian Harper, with financial backing from the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, developed the contraption which allows dog walkers to deposit their doggies’ do-dos as they normally would in conventional dog-litter bins found in parks and urban areas. A quick turn of the bin’s handle then mixes the foul fuel encouraging it to emit biomethane, a flammable gas generated by biological activity within the dung. The gas is collected in a reservoir and is then burned at dusk to power the light. Ten paper based doggy bags of poo can power the light for two hours.

The lamp began trials in November after more than two years of development and testing by Mr Harper. A similar municipal project in Ontario, Canada has demonstrated over five months of trials that dog poo collected from across three district parks can meet the electricity demands of 13 homes and remove 630kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. Not only has Mr Harper’s invention provided a suitable place to dispose of the unwanted excrement, but is diverting it away from conventional landfill sites and preventing it contaminating the ecologically sensitive watercourses in the area. It is a beacon for innovative, grassroots thinking and for the wider issues of sustainability in municipal planning.

Students wishing to study Natural Sciences should read into biomethane production by anaerobic digestion of organic waste and the harmful effects of dog poo in the environment and the risk of toxocariasis in humans.

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