A small start-up with roots in North Carolina A&T University has developed PiGrid, an alternative to asphalt that is derived from pig waste and actually performs better than conventional asphalt itself. The company is in its infancy but the technology is promising and has gained some attention recently. They recently won a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps, which allowed them to expand their lab work a bit. While they cannot yet create batches large enough to produce a road, the initial testing has been promising.
Research, funded with a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, shows that hog manure can produce adhesives superior to petroleum-based mixtures. This can be applied to road paving, saving money and yielding environmental benefits.
Traditional asphalt is comprised of 95% crushed rock and 5% petroleum. With the consistent upward march of energy prices, construction companies have felt the pinch and are eager to look for alternative materials. Meanwhile, one of the biggest hindrances for a pig farmer is how to handle gigantic volumes of waste. According to the three-person business, they can eventually produce 88 million gallons of PiGrid a year which is the equivalent to about 40 percent of the annual U.S. asphalt market.