Arizona State University students plan to find a ‘brighter’ solution for excess dog waste in Cosmo Dog Park.

The Gilbert City Council has set up a program that will encourage ASU Polytechnic Campus students to engineer a dog waste digester for the town’s Cosmo Dog Park. The students will design and build a technology that will use the waste to generate methane and power lights within the park.

“ASU students can have a practical study of something that supports the town’s vision of sustainability and energy renewability and at the same time takes care of a very practical problem within one of the most utilized parks,” said former councilwoman Linda Abbott.

By Any Other Name

Unsurprisingly, many cities face the problem of what to do with excess dog waste.

Abbott came up with the idea for the program after hearing about Park Spark, a project developed by MIT graduate Matthew Mazzotta that first used dog waste to generate energy. Abbott then contacted ASU in attempt to get the students involved with the project. Abbott and council developed the program with plans for design to begin this fall and construction set to start in the spring.

According to assistant town manager Tami Ryall, the project is part of a broader plan to continue creating a green community. In addition to the dog waste digester, the town already has a sound recycling program and a 100% reuse policy for water. Opening this program to ASU students will be a way for the students to get involved with the city’s current environmental project.

The completed technology will be enclosed in a tank located in the park. Then the dog owner will need to turn a crank, causing the waste to go through a biological process. After the waste has been decomposed in the tank, it will generate methane to power the lights in the park.

ASU students will need to take into consideration Arizona’s desert environment and intense summer heat when creating the digester.

“I think that there will be some phenomenal challenges for them both from the biology and physics standpoints,” said Ryall.

Fundraising for the Cosmo Dog Park digester will be occurring within the city over the next two to three months. The city council hopes to get both the community and students excited about the project and are even planning to hold a contest to name the park’s future tank.

“We want it to be a community asset and something people can get excited about,” said Ryall. “We want it to be fun.”

Photo Caption: A dog park in Washington, DC.

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