The Daily Iowan
In the attempt to transition the Oakdale Utility Power Plant off coal by 2025, the University of Iowa is struggling to find a product that can produce enough steam needed to heat campus building and keep campus operating.
The university is experimenting with biomass fuels, UI Director of Utilities Operations Ben Fish said. In particular, the university is testing the burning of oat hulls, miscanthus grass, and energy pellets alongside the remaining coal, he said.
The university has been burning oat hulls since 2003, Fish said. Now, they are focusing on miscanthus grass, and they have seen benefits from using it, he said.
The miscanthus grass is planted on roughly 1,100 acres that the university leases from farmers across the state, Fish said. Once harvested, the grass is put into an energy pellet, made from compressed organic matter that is used to create energy, and is burned to create steam.