This may look like an ordinary pig butt, but it’s a fuel-generating machine. (Photo by Travis S.)

One pig produces about eight pounds of manure a day. (Try not to think how many Reader’s Digests it might go through if it eliminated sitting on a toilet — you’ll just gross yourself out.) Anyway, that’s a lot of waste. But now, thanks to scientists at the University of Illinois, it might represent a lot of precious, vehicle-propelling, revenue-producing crude oil.

That’s right: Scientists have figured out a way to turn some of the stinkiest feces ever pooped out an animal’s butthole into an important alternative to petroleum. The process uses thermochemical conversion, in which heat and pressure act on the pig doo-doo in a controlled, extremely sped-up version of what the Earth does to dead mammoths or whatever over the course of millions of years.

So of course this is already awesome news, and it’s made more awesome by the fact that safely disposing of pig manure is a huge headache. (It’s what we call a two-fer, which is also what a pig calls it when he poops twice.) They’re already trying out this mega-compressed pig poo as a binder for asphalt in a road project in Illinois, which is not the most useful application for oil (it goes IN the car, guys), but the researchers have been able to refine the stuff into a fuel they say could compete with diesel. A 10,000-hog farm could produce about 5,000 barrels of crude oil per year, which we hope to use to power vehicles taking us anywhere that sells bacon.

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