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U of I professors receive grant to turn food waste into pavement binder and fuel

A bird's eye view of the College of ACES at the University of Illinois. The grass is green and the tress are lush.
Photo from University of Illinois College of ACES Facebook page.

Professors and researchers at the University of Illinois — Yuanhui Zhang, Paul Davidson, Cody Allen, Ramez Hajj, and Yalin Li — have received a $2.5 million grant from the USDA to study ways to turn food waste and pig poop (yes, really) into “pavement binders and transportation fuels.” Per ACES News, in attempt to find more sustainable replacements for crude oil, the professors:

“[w]ill use a hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) reactor system to convert biowaste into biocrude oil through a high-temperature, high-pressure process. This mimics petroleum formation in nature, where biowaste buried deep underground gradually turns into crude oil over millions of years. In the HTL reactor, the process takes less than an hour,” Zhang explains.

This seems like a much more sound and scientific attempt at creating pavement binder than the method in my neighborhood, where people throw their food waste onto the pavement and drive over it at very high speeds. 

Congrats to these scientists. 


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