Crude oil from pig manure?

US - Yuanhui Zhang has smelled the future of oil, and it stinks. The pungent, earthy scent emanates from swine pens that professor Zhang's graduate students visit regularly at the University of Illinois. Holding spades in gloved hands, they collect buckets of moist pig poop and carefully drive it to a lab on the edge of campus.
calendar icon 17 August 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

Inside a white metal building nestled among corn and soybean fields, the students pressure-cook the messy muck until it becomes thick, black, energy-dense crude oil remarkably similar to the stuff pumped from deep within the earth.

As oil and gas prices continue their steep climb, the dedicated crew of engineering researchers at the U. of I. is refining an economical process to transform smelly hog droppings into piggy petroleum that can be refined into industrial fuel.

Although experts say the oily end product is not likely to make a big dent in the U.S. energy shortage, the process may help relieve the odor and pollution problems that plague high-density animal farming by providing a use for porcine poop produced in vast quantities.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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