Researchers at the University of Illinois are finding success in their work to turn swine manure into crude oil. If continued research results in success this could add an additional $1 billion market to the hog industry and reduce U.S. dependence on crude oil imports. University of Illinois scientists have teamed with industry partners to design a pilot plant for a large commercial livestock farm that will convert swine manure into crude oil.
The pilot plant is based on research led by Yuanhui Zhang, an agricultural and biological engineer at the University of Illinois. It uses thermochemical conversion to transform organic compounds, like swine manure, in a heated and pressurized enclosure to produce oil and gas. This continuous reactor provides for continuous pumping of feed stock and continuous output.
Zhang's team has achieved as high as 70% conversion from swine manure volatile solids to oil. At that conversion efficiency, the manure excreted by one pig during the production cycle could produce up to 21 gallons of crude oil and add a $10 per pig profit. In the 100-million-hogs-per-year U.S. industry alone, that adds up to $1 billion.
The Illinois Pork Producers Association helped fund the project. IPPA executive director Jim Kaitschuk, says they see a number of advantages to producing crude oil from swine manure, which includes adding value to manure products. Worldwide BioEnergy is leading this effort in close cooperation with the U. of Illinois research team.