A new replacement for petroleum is coming from an unlikely source -- pig manure! It turns out that pig waste is particularly rich in oils that are very similar to petroleum. And while these oils are too low grade to produce gasoline, they may still work where the rubber meets the road.
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), civil engineer Ellie Fini and a team at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University have designed a sticky binder made from pig manure that can be used to make asphalt. At a cost of 56 cents per gallon to process, this new bioadhesive is a much less expensive binder than petroleum, and, so far, it has been standing up to rigorous testing.
In fact, Fini and her partners have filed patents on the technology and set up a company called Bio-Adhesive Alliance, with the vision of providing a win-win solution for farmers and the construction industry. Anything in the manure that stinks is filtered out during the processing, and the farmers can use the leftovers for fertilizer. So, nothing about the idea stinks!
This research was supported by several grants from the NSF Directorate for Engineering, including a grant from the NSF Innovation Corps program, which prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broadens the impact of select, NSF-funded, basic-research projects.
National Science Foundation