msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/15/2010 6:54:04 PM ET 2010-04-15T22:54:04

The outer road along Interstate 44 outside St. Louis is freshly paved — with asphalt made from recycled swine manure.

The 15 tons of designer asphalt applied on Wednesday are believed to be the first time a roadway has been created from swine manure. Two St. Louis County companies, road contractor Pace Construction Co. and the engineering firm Innoventor, joined together on the project.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Innoventor perfected the process of converting the animal waste into a bio-oil used in asphalt binder.

Hog producers are optimistic that, if the project works, it will create an additional source of revenue while helping the environment.

"If this works out, it's a win-win situation for everyone," Karlton Krause, a hog producer from northern Iowa, was quoted by the Post-Dispatch as saying. "For farmers, it produces revenue. And at the same time, it helps clean the environment. We're taking a waste product and finding a value-added purpose for it."

Missouri's Department of Transportation gave the green light to the project, and will be monitoring the 500-foot stretch.

Rick Lux, an Innoventor engineer, says the company plans to expand. "We've shown this stuff can be processed at the farm, processed at an asphalt plant and put down on a road," he said.

Others will also be watching — among them the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Glenn Curtis, a regional EPA official for wastewater, called the idea a "fairly unique concept."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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