Is oil too expensive? No problem. Professor Yuanhui Zhang, a biologist at UrbanaChampaign University in Illinois, has 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 liquid fuel, water and methane. The resulting substance is chemically close to crude oil with a higher content of sulfur and nitrogen. Its calorific value is about 85% of that of oil. 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 process only allows for the moment to transform two liters of slurry at a time to obtain a quarter of a liter of fuel in about fifteen minutes. Still, it is promising. According to Y. Zhang, a pork butcher can produce 75 to 80 liters of crude oil in its lifetime. A farm of 10 pigs would therefore make about 000 barrels / year. At € 4760 per barrel ($ 36), this
would be an income supplement 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 effluents generated by livestock. It has a role to play above all. as an alternative energy to oil.
Using the reactor on half of the operations would cut US oil imports by 1,8 billion euros per year.
This did not arouse any enthusiasm on the part of the American oil companies.
The idea of turning organic matter into fuel is not new. The first research dates back to the 70s. The experiment had been tried with plant waste, and abandoned due to the cost of the process and the drop in the price of oil. At nearly 40 € per barrel,
the interest seems obvious again. The system could be adapted for poultry droppings, cow dung or even human droppings.
Sources: France Agricole (15 / 04 / 05) and the Sillon