Oil is too expensive? No problem. Professor Yuanhui Zhang, a biologist at UrbanaChampaign University in Illinois, found the alternative energy: pig manure. The micro-reactor he developed transforms the effluents into crude oil.
Under the action of heat and pressure, he found a way to break the long carbon chains of the slurry to obtain a liquid fuel, water and methane. The substance obtained is chemically close to crude oil with a higher content of sulfur and nitrogen. Its calorific value is around 85% that of petroleum. It can be refined to make fuel oil, inks or plastics. It can also be used to generate electricity.
No need for catalysis. No need to pre-dry the slurry. But this simple procedure currently only transforms two liters of slurry at a time to obtain in fifteen minutes a quarter of a liter of fuel. Still, it is promising. According to Y. Zhang, a pork butcher can produce 75 to 80 liters of crude oil during its lifetime. A farm of 10 pigs would therefore produce around 000 barrels / year. At € 4760 a barrel ($ 36), this
would be an additional income of 12 to 18 € per pig (10% per head). The invention, which uses up to 70% of the dry matter of slurry, while reducing oxygen consumption and odors, could solve the problem of reprocessing the effluents generated by livestock farming. It especially has a role to play as an alternative energy to petroleum.
Using the reactor on half of the farms would reduce American oil imports by 1,8 billion euros per year.
This did not arouse any enthusiasm on the part of American oil tankers.
The idea of transforming organic matter into fuel is not new. The first research dates from the 70s. The experiment had been attempted with plant waste, and abandoned due to the cost of the process and the fall in the price of oil. At around 40 € per barrel,
the interest seems obvious again. The system could be adapted for poultry droppings, cow dung or even human excrement.
Sources: France Agricole (15 / 04 / 05) and the Sillon