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U.S. Roads Could Be Paved With Pig Manure as Sustainable Alternative

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Flushing asphalt could save our bacon

An interesting new story from Popular Science details a particularly unique frontier in the world of urban planning and transportation infrastructure: pig manure as paving material. (Yes, you read that right.) Ellie Fini, a civil engineer at North Carolina A&T State University, has filed a patent request for a paving aggregate developed with her team at the institution. The new material would combine "swine manure" with sand or gravel. "Typically you see asphalt made from [unsustainably extracted] petroleum used on the road," explains Fini in a video you can watch below, produced by the National Science Foundation and released earlier today.

Pig manure presents a suitable, and sustainable, alternative. Popular Science puts it thusly:

In addition to being smelly, lagoons of pig waste near farms have contaminated water supplies during major flooding events, and are generally seen as a nuisance. Many researchers are trying to find ways to make pig waste more useful. In addition to the asphalt efforts, other researchers are working on ways to reduce the amount of ammonia in waste making it a less noxious fertilizer, and extract methane from the waste, which could be used as an energy source.

It’s the most recent example of a novel paving material riding into the spotlight: Last week, we reported that a section of the country’s famed Route 66 in Missouri will be covered with solar pavers, which, like photovoltaic panels, store solar energy. Solar Roadways is overseeing that work.