UI seeks proposals for densified biomass solid fuel trials

By University of Iowa | July 31, 2018

Since 2003, the University of Iowa has been steadily expanding its use of biomass, to fuel its on-campus combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant, and gradually reducing its use of coal.  In 2017 the university set a goal of zero coal by 2025.  A unique, ground-breaking aspect of the fuel program is that the university has learned how to consume biomass fuels in its two coal-fired boilers, potentially leading the way for other operators of coal-fired boilers to convert to biomass without major capital investment in new boilers.  Ultimately, UI intends to attract producers of fuel pellets to set up operations within economic distance of its power plant in Iowa City, to supply UI with 100,000 to 125,000 tons (2 million MMBTU) per year of biomass-based fuel.  

The UI biomass fuel portfolio includes oat hulls, wood, engineered fuel pellets, and miscanthus grass.  

The university has already established nearly 1,200 acres of miscanthus on farms near its power plant, and is on track achieve its target of 2,500 acres within a few years. To optimize miscanthus as boiler fuel, university has begun a procurement process to solicit suppliers interested to develop a densified fuel which blends miscanthus with other high-BTU feedstocks.    

In the current Request for Qualifications (RFQL) process, the university will select one more suppliers with which to partner on densified fuel trials using university-supplied feedstocks, while allowing suppliers some flexibility to propose alternate feedstocks to achieve the desired results. The learnings developed in these trials will help shape the subsequent procurement process for large-scale, long-term supply of fuel to the university.  More information on RFQL # 17175 can be found at https://uiebid.ionwave.net/CurrentSourcingEvents.aspx