DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2008-06-11 15:40:00
    • Article ID: 541669

    Chemists Get Scoop on Crude "~Oil' from Pig Manure

    Laura Ost, laura.ost@nist.gov, (303) 497-4880

    After a close examination of crude oil made from pig manure, chemists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are certain about a number of things.

    Most obviously, "This stuff smells worse than manure," says NIST chemist Tom Bruno.

    But a job's a job, so the NIST team has developed the first detailed chemical analysis revealing what processing is needed to transform pig manure crude oil into fuel for vehicles or heating. Mass production of this type of biofuel could help consume a waste product overflowing at U.S. farms, and possibly enable cutbacks in the nation's petroleum use and imports. But, according to a new NIST paper,* pig manure crude will require a lot of refining.

    The ersatz oil used in the NIST analyses was provided by engineer Yuanhui Zhang of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Zhang developed a system using heat and pressure to transform organic compounds such as manure into oil.

    As described in the new paper, Bruno and colleagues determined that the pig manure crude contains at least 83 major compounds, including many components that would need to be removed, such as about 15 percent water by volume, sulfur that otherwise could end up as pollution in vehicle exhaust, and lots of char waste containing heavy metals, including iron, zinc, silver, cobalt, chromium, lanthanum, scandium, tungsten and minute amounts of gold and hafnium. Whatever the pigs eat, from dirt to nutritional supplements, ends up in the oil.

    While the thick black liquid may look like its petroleum-based counterparts, the NIST study shows that looks can be deceiving. "The fact that pig manure crude oil contains a lot of water is unfavorable. They would need to get the water out," Bruno says.

    The measurements were made with a new NIST test method and apparatus, the advanced distillation curve, which provides highly detailed and accurate data on the makeup and performance of complex fluids. A distillation curve charts the percentage of the total mixture that evaporates as a sample is slowly heated. Because the different components of a complex mixture typically have different boiling points, a distillation curve gives a good measure of the relative amount of each component in the mixture. NIST chemists enhanced the traditional technique by improving precision and control of temperature measurements and adding the capability to analyze the chemical composition of each boiling fraction using a variety of advanced methods.

    NIST researchers analyzed the graphite-like char remaining after the distillation by bombarding it with neutrons, a non-destructive way of identifying the types and amounts of elements present. Two complementary neutron methods detected the heavy metals listed above.

    Bruno and colleagues currently spend much of their time analyzing military jet fuels and are not planning a major foray into pig manure. But Bruno concedes that the effort may have a payoff. "Who knows, it might help decrease the nuisance of manure piles."

    For more on the process of making pig waste crude, see "Converting Manure to Oil: U of I Lays Groundwork for One-of-a-Kind Pilot Plant" (http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/stories/news3557.html)

    * L.S. Ott, B.L. Smith and T.J. Bruno. Advanced distillation curve measurement: Application to a bio-derived crude oil prepared from swine manure. Fuel (2008), doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2008.04.038.

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    In a first, researchers identify reddish coloring in an ancient fossil - a 3-million-year-old mouse

    In a first, researchers identify reddish coloring in an ancient fossil - a 3-million-year-old mouse

    Researchers have for the first time detected chemical traces of red pigment in an ancient fossil - an exceptionally well-preserved mouse, not unlike today's field mice, that roamed the fields of what is now the German village of Willershausen around 3 million years ago.

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    Cryogenics equipment maker licenses ORNL auto-fill method for more efficient liquid helium use

    Cryogenics equipment maker licenses ORNL auto-fill method for more efficient liquid helium use

    Advanced Research Systems has licensed an ORNL technology designed to automatically refill liquid helium used in laboratory equipment for low-temperature scientific experiments, which will reduce downtime, recover more helium and increase overall efficiency.

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    Students from Minnesota and Massachusetts Win DOE's 29th National Science Bowl(r)

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    Five new innovators join Chain Reaction Innovations in third cohort

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    Department of Energy Announces $20 Million for Artificial Intelligence Research

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    Tim Knewitz named Argonne National Laboratory's Chief Financial Officer

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    Department of Energy Announces $95 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants

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    DOE's Science Graduate Student Research Program Selects 70 Students to Pursue Research at DOE Laboratories

    The Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Science has selected 70 graduate students from across the nation for its 2018 Solicitation 2 cycle for Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program.


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    Improving Isotope Supply for a Cancer-Fighting Drug

    Improving Isotope Supply for a Cancer-Fighting Drug

    Production of actinium-227 ramps up for use in a drug to fight prostate cancer that has spread to bone.

    Extracting Signs of the Elusive Neutrino

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    Slow Charge Generation Plays Big Role in Model Material for Solar Cells

    Slow Charge Generation Plays Big Role in Model Material for Solar Cells

    Insight about energy flow in copper-based material could aid in creating efficient molecular electronics.

    Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light

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    Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy

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    The Fusion Recurrent Neural Network reliably forecasts disruptive and destructive events in tokamaks.

    Spin Flipper Upends Protons

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    The spin direction of protons was reversed, for the first time, using a nine-magnet device, potentially helping tease out details about protons that affect medical imaging and more.

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Design principles lead to a catalyst that splits water in a low pH environment, vital for generating solar fuels.

    Sea Quark Spin Surprise!

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    The Weak Side of the Proton

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    A precision measurement of the proton's weak charge narrows the search for new physics.

    Fast-Moving Pairs May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    Fast-Moving Pairs May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    Physicists develop a universal mathematical description that suggests that proton-neutron pairs in a nucleus may explain why their associated quarks have lower average momenta than predicted.


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