How to Turn Dog Poop into Electricity with a Homemade Methane Digester


Converting dog poop into usable energy may seem far-fetched, but with a properly constructed methane digester, this is absolutely possible. Methane digesters leverage the natural process of anaerobic digestion to break down organic matter like dog waste into methane gas, which can then be used to generate electricity.

With some basic materials and a weekend's worth of work, you can build your own homemade methane digester to transform your dog's poop from a smelly nuisance into a source of renewable power. In this comprehensive guide, I'll walk through everything you need to know to turn dog poop into electricity on a small scale.

Overview of Methane Digestion Process

To understand how a methane digester converts dog poop into energy, it's helpful to first understand the basic anaerobic digestion process. Here's a quick overview:

So in essence, a methane digester harnesses natural microbes to transform organic matter into methane fuel. The digester acts as a controlled environment to optimize this methane production.

Choosing a Digester Design

There are many different digester designs to choose from when building a home methane system. The right design depends on factors like:

Here are a few common digester designs to consider:

For a small single dog system, a garbage can digester is likely the easiest and cheapest option. I'll focus on this design for the rest of the guide.

Garbage Can Digester Construction

Building a simple garbage can methane digester is a pretty straightforward weekend project. Here's what you'll need:



Total estimated cost: $50-$75


Follow these steps to construct the digester:

  1. Drill or cut a 1" inch inlet hole near the bottom rim of the garbage can. Attach a 6" long piece of PVC pipe using PVC cement. This will be the inlet port.
  2. Drill or cut a second 1" inch hole near the top rim on the opposite side. Attach another 6" PVC pipe piece. This is the outlet port.
  3. On the lid, cut a third 1" inch port hole. Attach a 12" long PVC pipe through the lid. This is the vent.
  4. Apply water sealant around all joints (optional). This prevents leaks.
  5. Attach PVC end caps on the two lower ports to close them off initially.

That covers the basic construction. For increased methane production, you can also add an internal heating coil to keep the digester temperature consistent.

Operating Your Garbage Can Digester

Once constructed, you'll need to add waste and let the digester start producing biogas. Here are some operational tips:

Generating Electricity from Methane

The methane emitted from the digester will accumulate in the headspace of the sealed can. To convert this into usable electricity:

A single small dog will likely produce 50-100W of equivalent electrical power. Enough for some lights or to charge phones!

Safety Considerations

While digesters are generally safe, it's smart to take precautions:

With some common sense safety measures, you can operate a home dog poop digester without issues. Just be diligent!

Wrapping Up

Constructing your own methane digester is a fun project that lets you turn your dog's waste into renewable energy. With simple plans and materials, anyone can build a small backyard methane system. While it likely won't power your whole house, it's a novel way to glean some electricity from poop. If designed properly, a digester can operate safely and passively for years. Give dog waste digestion a try!