Illinois is using pigs, the Japanese are using cows – both are trying to get fuel from manure. The University of Illinois is designing “a pilot plant for a large commercial livestock farm that will convert swine manure to crude oil,” according to this press release from the university’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences or ACES.
The pilot plant is based on research led by Yuanhui Zhang, an agricultural and biological engineer at the U of I. Zhang and colleagues developed a system using thermochemical conversion (TCC) to transform organic compounds (like swine manure) in a heated and pressurized enclosure to produce oil and gas. “The process we developed is different from most conventional TCC processes,” said Zhang. “There is no need for the addition of a catalyst, and our process does not require pre-drying of the manure.” Involved in the project are the Illinois Pork Producers Association, Worldwide BioEnergy (which is supposedly based here in Jefferson City, MO but I can’t find a website for them), Innoventor Engineering Inc., and BioCrude LLC (can’t find them either).
In Tokyo, according to this AP story, scientists are using cow manure to create gasoline. Sakae Shibusawa, an agriculture engineering professor at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, said his team has successfully extracted .042 ounces of gasoline from every 3.5 ounces of cow dung by applying high pressure and heat. “The new technology will be a boon for livestock breeders” to reduce the burden of disposing of large amounts of waste, Shibusawa said. Meanwhile, according to the article, “another group of researchers has successfully extracted an aromatic ingredient of vanilla from cattle dung.” I found this story from a link on humor columnist Dave Barry’s blog – and as he would say, I am not making this up.
I’m sure he would appreciate the graphic montage I put together to accompany this post.