Pig Power: Manure Can Now Be Converted Into Oil

Little piggies' manure could go to market as a petroleum substitute.

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Scientists have now managed to make the lowliest, stinkiest of animal wastes into a valuable substitute for petroleum.

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We don't really need another reason to love tasty, bacon-producing pigs, but here's another one anyway.

The eight pounds of manure (yes, eight) pigs produce daily could soon be used to power your car, potentially helping to wean America from its dependence on foreign oil and basically saving the world singlehandedly.

Excuse us while we spruce up our shrine to swine.

Scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a process for converting raw pig manure to crude oil, according to Clean Technica, and with further development, the process may even yield biodiesel.

That's correct: Scientists have now managed to make the lowliest, stinkiest of animal wastes into a valuable substitute for petroleum. According to some estimates, an average 10,000-hog farm could produce 5,000 barrels of crude oil a year.

How does it all work? Scientists have come up with a way—called thermochemical conversion—to speed up the gazillion year-long process in nature that uses pressure and heat to produce fossil fuels, this time using pig poo instead of fossilizing dead animals.

While this development not only means pigs are even more valuable than they were before—is that even possible?—it's also a viable way to get rid of all that smelly manure that piles up on farms and emits all sorts of environment-fouling gasses and seeps into ground water supplies.

"If successful commercially, the process would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants from pig farms and many other types of livestock operations. In particular, it could help protect drinking water supplies in livestock farming areas," according to Clean Technica.

Although it's not ready to be refined into the gasoline that we pump into our cars, manure oil is already being tested as an ingredient in asphalt on a stretch of road in Illinois and with further development, it could compete with some diesel fuels.

Just think, one day you could be driving your pig-poo fueled car to buy bacon for brunch. It's the circle of life.

Meg Handley is a business reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can reach her at mhandley@usnews.com and follow her on Twitter.