American drivers might have an unlikely source to thank for their smooth roads – pig poop.
PIGrid (pronounced like ‘hybrid’) is a green initiative to convert hog manure into a binding material for asphalt. Not only does PIGrid aim for more sustainable practices of hog waste disposal, but the economic costs are significantly less expensive. Compared to petroleum-based binders that cost about $2 per gallon, hog waste can be converted into a longer lasting binder at only 50-cents per gallon.
Elham Fini, an assistant professor of civil engineering from NC A&T State University, created PIGrid after receiving about $1.2 million in research funding in 2008 from the National Science Foundation.
Fini says swine waste can be converted to yield a binding, or adhesive, material that can replace a petroleum derivative that now makes up about 7 percent of asphalt and that has driven up asphalt’s cost, according to a News-14 North Carolina report.
In that News-14 report, Fini says pig waste binder costs about 54 cents per gallon compared to $2 per gallon for the petroleum binder. She said the construction industry may find it favorable because it is less expensive , eco-friendly and is more durable in cold weather, according to the report.
In addition to the financial benefits for the construction industry, the findings of Fini’s research also solve the growing waste disposal problem for farmers in North Carolina. Currently, more than 9 million hogs are being raised throughout North Carolina and safely disposing of their manure has been a concern.
Fini is working directly with hog farmers and the construction industry to finalize details for the launch PIGrid within the next 12 to 18 months.