Some call me the "ideas man".
The last few years I've been working in the vocational education sector in Melbourne, lately in the area of sustainability and carbon management. In 2008 when I was working at William Angliss Institute in the CBD, I was awarded the annual Innovation Award for an online tool I developed for international students which carried a prize of $2500. I used the money to go back to university and put towards a Graduate Certificate in Sustainability at Swinburne University (coincidentally where I now work). However, in 2010 I was diagnosed with a rare cancer - tibial chondrosarcoma - when I resigned from my full-time job and my life appeared to fall apart quite quickly. In my final semester in completing my qualification the assessment required to be applied to a workplace context. As I wasn't working at the time, I was provided to work on a topic that I was interested in. As the owner of two boxers (Sally and Diesel) I have been perplexed by the the dog owner population who scoop their dogs' poo in plastic bags to be sent to landfill. Surely, there must be a better way? And so the dog poo power project was born!
(Update: I'm 18 months in the clear!)
The Project? (aka "Closing the Poop Loop")
Following in the footsteps of community-owned energy projects such as the Hepburn Wind Farm, the central idea of the project is around distributed energy and energy diversity.
Australia has one of the highest incidences of pet ownership in the world with latest data (from 2006) showing that 63% of the 7.5 million households own a pet. As the dog population in Australia continues to grow, so will the issue of dog ‘waste’ disposal in a waste management system of increasing urbanisation, a limited amount of suitable park spaces and shrinking landfill sites. On average, a dog produces 0.34 kilograms (kg) of feces per day. Consequently, there is approximately 1, 350.48 tonnes (t) of dog waste to be disposed of every day in Australia; 492, 925 tonnes (t) per year. Therefore the aim is to build an anaerobic methane digester to process the dog waste (and potentially other appropriate wastes) to create a biogas that can serve as renewable energy source (end use yet to be determined).
How I'l pull it off
I've pitched the idea to the Yarra Energy Foundation (www.yef.org.au) who are keen to support me through the process. I've also recruited the assistance of Liam Fennessy (RMIT Industrial Design) and his technical expertise.
Funded by Melbourne (April 2012)