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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Al Stiller insists chicken manure makes good fuel. Liquefied, cooked and sterilized by heat and intense pressure, it can be blended with diesel to power an engine with no significant difference in performance.
And that, says the West Virginia University chemical engineering professor, has global implications: If it were to catch on, a blend that's 65 percent diesel and 35 percent liquid waste would reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
"I don't know how it does it," Stiller told the Associated Press. "It just does."
Chicken farmers in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and other states have been blamed for fouling streams and rivers with runoff that is high in nitrogen from manure plowed into the ground as fertilizer.
Many believe the runoff damages fish and plant life, leading to outbreaks of such toxic microbes as Pfisteria piscicida. Yet, as food
and meat production increase, so too will the need for disposal.
Stiller and two other WVU scientists say their work has the potential for widespread use. The field of biofuels has not received its due.
Horse and cow manure may also work in a fuel blend, Stiller said. The engineer still needs to study the practical economics for a farm. He also wants to investigate the potential of the residue that's left behind when the manure is liquefied.