Pig farms also smell of ammonia. Is there an easy way to extract that as well? Commercialization of Porky's Petrol (Performance Fuel for Road Hogs?) awaits the development of industrial-scale refineries. Is it time to short Big Oil for a case of "not invented here?"
[University of Illinois] researchers were able to determine the precise balance between a temperature hot enough to break down the manure's molecular bonds and a pressure high enough to keep the super hot poop from turning into a gas. These conditions allow the pig excrement to emerge less than an hour later as thick, black, sludgy oil.
Along the way the product is stripped of its telltale scent--it smells like wet coffee grounds--and is only slightly less pure than the natural stuff, [professor Yuanhui] Zhang said. The only byproducts are a small puff of carbon dioxide, a few dribbles of water and a tiny bit of dirt.
"What's fascinating is that it's a relatively simple process," said Ted Funk, a researcher in Zhang's group. "Even though the process has complex chemistry, it's relatively short, requires almost no extra materials, and you get a nice energy output."
In fact, the researchers have found the sludge contains three times the energy used to produce it. This energy ratio, combined with a technical breakthrough earlier this year that allows continuous feeding of the system with fecal matter, has been noticed by entrepreneurs.
USING EVERYTHING BUT THE SQUEAL. But the opportunity cost of a bratwurst might now include ... a full tank of gas?