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U of I researchers secure USDA grant to convert biowaste into pavement material | Top Stories

URBANA, Ill. (WAND) — A team at the University of Illinois received a USDA grant in the amount of $2.5 million to investigate uses for food waste and swine manure.

According to the university, the US produces millions of tons of food and agricultural waste. Converting this waste into useful products such as pavement and fuel could help reduce the high cost of managing waste while also mitigating environmental impact.

“Many of our daily-life products are created from derivatives of crude oil. That includes not only fuel, but also lubricants, heating oils, asphalt, and plastics. Petroleum will eventually run out, and we need to find alternatives that are recyclable and renewable,” said Yuanhui Zhang, Founder professor of agricultural and biological engineering (ABE) and principal investigator on the grant.

Fellow team members include Paul Davidson and Cody Allen – ABE, Ramez Hajj – Civil and Environmental Engineering and Yalin Li – Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment (iSEE).

“Adopting a more circular economy ensures that wealth and other economic benefits in the form of jobs and other opportunities are created, and stay, in rural communities,” says US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release from NIFA announcing the grants. “We must support and incentivize practices like these, because it’s what consumers want — and what farmers, and our planet, need.”

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