Coming to pet shops in 2012: An Israeli pooper-scooper that turns droppings into harmless, odorless ash within seconds.
One Israeli who got fined for failing to pick up the droppings decided to contact Prof. Oded Shoseyov of the Hebrew University, a renowned biotech inventor, for a better solution. And Shoseyov rose to the challenge.
His novel idea is AshPoopie, a pooper-scooper with a critical difference: After it gathers the droppings, it turns them into odorless, sterile ash within seconds. All the dog-walker has to do is push a button to release an activation capsule from the cartridge inside the unit.
Recently, AshPoopie earned patents in Europe and the United States. Ramat Gan-based Paulee CleanTec, the company founded to develop this and related products, is working with engineers to finalize the design ahead of a 2012 US launch.
Apparently, American retailers can't wait to start stocking the product. "Where have you been all this time?" was the reaction most often heard by executives of the privately funded company when they introduced AshPoopie in September at SuperZoo 2011, the major US pet products exhibition in Las Vegas.
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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 clamoring to talk with Paulee CleanTec about partnerships, licensing agreements, joint ventures and sole marketing rights.
Simple to operate
Paulee CleanTec CFO Moshe Hibel points out that the latest innovations in this field, such as flushable droppings bags, don't really help the environment and sidestep the core issue.
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. Shoseyov, who also owns a winery, is the brains behind this and about 15 other patented inventions.
"We are hoping to join the [Israel] Chief Scientist's technology incubator in Haifa," says 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.
Cat, human solutions are next
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.
Meanwhile, Paulee CleanTec is expecting to introduce its final AshPoopie design at another major pet products show in Orlando, Florida, at the end of February.