New patent turns doggie poop into briquettes
24 October 2005, BERLIN - Authorities in Germany have issued what is believed to be the world's first industrial patent for a scientific procedure to convert doggie poop into fuel briquettes and construction materials.
24 October 2005
BERLIN - Authorities in Germany have issued what is believed to be the world's first industrial patent for a scientific procedure to convert doggie poop into fuel briquettes and construction materials.
And the Berlin man who filed the patent is confident he could be the first person in history to become rich from collecting dog droppings, almost literally turning excrement into cash.
"I could be sitting on a pile," says Karl-Friedrich Lentze, a 57- year-old avant-garde artist. "Every heap of dog dump I see on the street is worth its weight in gold to me."
The patent was filed with the European Patent Office in Munich just as oil and natural gas prices spiralled in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
So the familiar sidewalk stench is the sweet smell of money in the bank to Lentze, who has already attracted enormous publicity and who says enquiries have come in from industrialists all over the world.
He proudly displays small chocolate-brown briquettes neatly arrayed on shelves in his artist's studio in Berlin's upscale Charlottenburg district.
He markets the briquettes under the brand name HuKo, derived from "hundekott", a rather polite German term equivalent to "doggie poop". As opposed to the rather more common word "scheisse" which, by the way, can also be used as a colourful expletive by pedestrians who inadvertently step in hundekott on the street.
"HuKo briquettes are ideal for use as fuel or kindling," he explains, holding one miniature block daintily between thumb and forefinger for the benefit of photographers.
"And they are incredibly hard and so can be used for modelling purposes or as construction bricks," he adds, unveiling a small model house on a nearby display table.
The structure resembles a replica house built of plastic toy building blocks, except that the tiny bricks are brown. Actually, it looks more like a gingerbread house clad in milk chocolate.
"It's very durable and can take years of wear and tear," says Lentze. He notes that "the Ancient Egyptians used Nile mud mixed with manure to build their houses" and that people in many parts of the world still make sun-dried bricks the same way.
He also points out that dried livestock dung has been used as fuel throughout the world since time immemorial.
"Millions of people the world over cook with cow patties," Lentze tells interviewers. "It's plentiful and very efficient. In big cities like Berlin there's very little available cow dung but we're practically suffocating in dog scheisse, so it's about time we took advantage of it."
Suffocating is precisely the word to describe the aroma that emanates from Lentze's pottery ovens during the baking process. It is also possible to use a microwave, Lentze says during a demonstration arranged especially for the TV camera crews. But a pottery oven provides a better result.
Using a fresh specimen conveniently provided by his pet terrier Karlchen, Lentze painstakingly moulds (using latex-gloved hands) several small briquettes into tiny baking forms and shoves them into the pre-heated oven.
The ensuing stench is truly breathtaking, despite the fact that windows in Lentze's apartment/studio have been flung wide open.
"I have to admit that this is the worst part of it," Lentze says, looking somewhat green in the face. "I don't suppose I'll ever get used to the odour of steaming hot scheisse in the oven."
The assembled news crews breathe a sigh of relief when, after only a few minutes, Lentze turns off the oven and - just as in those cooking shows on TV - produces a tray of HuKo briquettes which he had baked earlier in the interests of saving time and saving him the embarrassment of complaints from the neighbours in front of live TV cameras.
"Here they are, ready for use. Long-lasting and efficient fuel or building materials," he says proudly, holding the tray of tiny brown bricks aloft for the cameras.
HuKo briquettes burn with a colourless and odourless flame. The building blocks are also clean and odourless, all the bacteria having been baked out of them, he says.
Lentze happened upon HuKo while looking for a novel new medium for his avant-garde sculptures. He takes pride in showing off chocolate- brown abstract objets d'art that he has produced.
"If there's anything better than turning scheisse into money," Lentze says with an artistic sweep of the hand, "it's turning scheisse into art."
Subject: German news