Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
The University of Illinois is transforming swine manure into one of the nation's largest imports: crude oil.
What can pig poo do? Apparently, it can be turned into one of the nation's biggest imports: crude oil. At the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, swine manure is being converted into crude oil through a thermochemical conversion (TCC) process. TCC reforms organic compounds in a heated and pressurized enclosure to produce oil and gas, mimicking the process that created crude oil from decomposed animals--a process that naturally takes thousands of years--in a much faster and more efficient manner. According to Yuanhui Zhang, U of I agricultural and biological engineer, the nation could see a $1.5 billion reduction in crude oil imports and swine producers could see a 10 percent increase in their income with the adoption of this new technology. Based off the U of I research, a portion of Interstate 44 near St. Louis was repaved using pig manure-based material as asphalt binder, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Missouri Department of Transportation will monitor the wear and tear on the 500-foot stretch of road, which endures heavy seasonal traffic when nearby Six Flags St. Louis is open. (Photo: tj.blackwell/Flickr)