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Pig Shit to Paved Roads: Ain't Science Wonderful?

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Innoventor, an Earth City-based company, got a $1 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency last year to build a pressure cooker-like contraption that reduces pig waste into bio-oil that can be used to make asphalt, among other things.

Former Riverfront Times staff writer Kristen Hinman has the story in the current issue of The Atlantic. If the Swine-Manure-to-Energy Unit catches on, it would reduce the need for smelly manure lagoons and decrease the $11-million asphalt industry's dependence on fossil fuels. Someday, it's even possible that human shit can be converted to bio-oil as well.

For now, a prototype Swine-Manure-to-Energy Unit is in operation in a barn on Rick Rehmeier's hog farm in St. Charles County. Last April, road crews laid down 300 feet of pig-shit pavement on I-44 near Six Flags.

"I was out there twice on my hands and knees, putting my nose to the pavement," Innoventor engineer Rick Lux told Hinman. "The road does not smell."

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