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Magical Contraption Turns Pigeon Poop Into Soap

The Belgian designer Tuur Van Balen shows how to turn an urban nuisance into household gold.

Magical Contraption Turns Pigeon Poop Into Soap

Pigeons crap. Humans clean. Let's merge the two, why don't we? That's the idea of Belgian-born designer Tuur Van Balen, who's on a mission to turn feral pigeon feces into detergent. You read that right. By feeding pigeons a metabolism-altering bacteria, then getting them to defecate in a designated box, Van Balen reckons he can create soap suitable for washing dirty windows, sticky floors, and, yes, even pigeon turd on the awning. Think of it as a closed-loop system for one of the city's most irritating (and plentiful) natural resources.

Van Balen calls it Pigeon d?Or, which translates to "Golden Pigeon." Awesome.

The trick is capturing pigeons so that they actually eat the bacteria (which is harmless, a sort of avian equivalent of yogurt). For that, Van Balen designed a pigeon-sorting house that attaches to your windowsill or the roof of your car. Icon magazine has the details:

In theory, pigeons arrive on a landing platform and enter through a door set at a 45 degree angle, so once they're in it's hard for them to escape. The pigeons are sorted according to type, and given different foods to make them defecate different soaps (Van Balen has just finished testing a formula that is great for cleaning dirt from car windscreens). After the snack, the pigeons are set free through several tunnels to spread them over the city.

The writer says "in theory," because the project hasn't soared beyond the walls of the lab, which is too bad. We can think of all sorts of places where it'd come in handy: in Trafalgar Square, at the Piazza San Marco, over Jared Followill's head.

Granted you'd have problems regulating pigeons in the real world. And then there's the whole matter of people's basic squeamishness over communing with bird doodie. Who'd want to slather it all over the kitchen floor besides this guy? Van Balen recognizes the limits at play here and, as it turns out, has no intention of creating a commercial product. (Sorry, Jared.) Still, it's a good way to get the public to think about how to make practical use of an urban nuisance.

[Images courtesy of Tuur Van Balen]