Tarry for the Nonce

May 11, 2006

Swine Not?

Filed under: Science — lmwalker @ 2:52 pm

For those of us that attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and enjoyed the olfactory experience supplied by the bovine population south of the agricultural quad, I am hardly surprised that their researchers have found a new use for pig poo:

“We are the first to actually do this,” professor Yuanhui Zhang says proudly of his team’s ability to turn swine manure into crude oil. He’s a bio-environmental engineer at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who has led the 10-year research project that recently announced a breakthrough in porcine petroleum . . .

Zhang’s breakthrough wasn’t that he and fellow researchers had become excrement alchemists; in about 1998, he figured out how to convert some of a pig’s byproduct to an energy source . . .

Zhang’s big breakthrough is that he’s designed a more efficient process: a continuous reactor. Instead of converting hog waste one batch at a time . . .

Theoretically, the resulting millions of barrels of crude a day could make a significant dent in America’s dependence on nonrenewable, and often imported, oil.



  1. Actually, I think those were, in fact, pig farms that made our campus oh-so-fragrant when the wind blew from the south.

    Comment by Toly — May 11, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

  2. Did you never visit the barn on campus? U of I has a really good animal husbandry program from what one of my CCSO co-workers told me back in the day. Ironically, this story was out of Hampshire, IL….and showed up in the Daily Herald.

    There’s also a technology that can make oil out of garbage. It was kind of a big deal a few years ago when it appeared in MIT’s Technology Review. Although, the problem was that the refineries cost a lot of money to produce; however, if they can find a way to turn it into something very close to crude, the payoff would be big. I thought about starting a company just to buy the technology and get into the business (since it looked like it was something new that hadn’t really been done yet).


    Comment by Andrew P. — May 12, 2006 @ 10:07 am

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