Abracadabra! Israeli pooper scooper turns dog droppings to ash

If you have a dog, then you know that no matter how fancy a pooper-scooper you’ve got, after Rover’s walk you’re still left with a messy, smelly nuisance that pollutes the environment with sewage and plastic bags.

One Israeli who got fined for failing to pick up the droppings decided to contact Hebrew University professor Oded Shoseyov for a better solution. Shoseyov rose to the challenge — and the result is AshPoopie. It is slated to hit the U.S. market sometime this year.

The hand-carried pooper-scooper turns pet droppings into odorless, sterile ash within seconds. With the push of a button, the dog-walker releases an activation capsule from the cartridge inside the unit, and pet droppings disintegrate.

AshPoopie earned patents in Europe and the United States. Ramat Gan-based Paulee CleanTec, the company founded to develop this and related products, worked with engineers to finalize the design ahead of a  U.S. launch.

With the push of a button, feces are transformed into ashes.

Apparently, American retailers can’t wait to start stocking the product. When the product was introduced last September at SuperZoo 2011, the major U.S. pet products exhibition in Las Vegas, the reaction most often heard by executives of the privately funded company was, “Where have you been all this time?”

With about 75 million registered dogs in the United States and the same number in Europe, it came as no surprise that some of the biggest pet-product manufacturers and retailers were axious to talk with Paulee CleanTec about partnerships, licensing agreements, joint ventures and sole marketing rights.

Paulee CleanTec CFO Moshe Hibel said that the latest innovations in this field, such as flushable droppings bags, don’t really help the environment and sidestep the core issue.

“Rather than moving the problem from one place to another, we are really eliminating it completely,” he said. “We tried different methods, including burning, until we reached the ultimate solution. All the science behind it is done and now we are focused on the mechanism.”

The easy-to-carry device contains special tablets that drop into the collection chamber via a button. Within 10 seconds, the feces is transformed into a small amount of odorless sterile ash that can be deposited harmlessly anywhere, even on plants, according to Paulee executives. Shoseyov, who also owns a winery, is the brains behind this and about 15 other patented inventions. He now serves as Paulee’s chief scientific officer.

Oded Shoseyov

“We are hoping to join the [Israel] Chief Scientist’s technology incubator in Haifa,” said Hibel. “If we are accepted, some of the components must be manufactured in Israel.”

The cost of AshPoopie hasn’t yet been determined, but Hibel expects it to be relatively inexpensive. A monthly supply of capsules will cost $10 to $20, depending on the size of the dog.

Paulee CleanTec is already looking to the future of the invention, planning to apply it to cat litter boxes and human waste treatment systems.

“We are now negotiating with leading pet industry companies in the world to look into joint ventures,” reveals Hibel. Among these are makers of cat litter boxes.

Judging by the reaction to AshPoopie at SuperZoo, they’re betting that cat owners will welcome it. “The cat problem is even bigger than the dog problem because a litter box smells up the home if you don’t clean it every day,” says Hibel. “This would not smell, and you would not have to collect the ashes more than once a month. You could then use the ashes to fertilize the garden.”

The same technology has potential for transforming the unpleasant world of portable chemical johns and airplane, boat and train toilets into an odor-free and environmentally beneficial system.

“What you have to do today is take the sewage out with a truck,” says Hibel. “Our system would separate feces from urine, sterilize the urine and use it to clean the toilet, and sterilize the feces and turn it into ash.”

The flushing process would require no electrical source because the process of turning the waste into ash generates enough heat to convert it into energy to flush the toilet and perhaps provide lighting as well. The inventor envisions a backup energy source, such as a solar panel, to be installed on the system.

For more information, visit www.ashpoopie.com.