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Biomass Use at UI Power Plants

The University Iowa currently burns biomass at two locations on-campus: the Main Power Plant, located on the Iowa River in downtown Iowa City, and the UI Research Park in Coralville.

Oat hulls have been burned along with coal at the Main Plant since 2003, accounting for approximately 10 percent of the fuel use. The main power plant is a combined heat and power plant that serves the east side of campus with steam. The plant has currently converted two solid fuel boilers to co-firing biomass resources. Boiler #10 is a stoker boiler which process mainly woody resources and other test batches. Boiler #11 is a circulating fluid bed boiler that utilizes mainly oat hulls and wood chips. Using combined heat and power (CHP) and use of biomass fuels, The University of Iowa is able to co-generate energy for cost-effective electricity, cooling and water treatment on campus. And, since CHP is highly efficient, it reduces traditional air pollutants and carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas associated with climate change, as well.

Biomass fuels are also burned in boilers at the University of Iowa Research Park. This is also a combined heat and power facility with a wood burning gasification boiler. The Oakdale plant provides heat and power to the university research park with the goal of operating on 100% renewable energy. 

  • The Power Plant retrofitted one coal-fired boiler to burn oat hulls from Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids, reducing  fuel costs and emissions. Annual savings is $670,000. 
  • The UI Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant (OREP) is a series of projects to demonstrate multiple technologies using locally available renewable fuel sources, to meet the energy needs at the UI/Oakdale Research Park. 

Oakdale FinalMain Power Plant 2



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