University of Iowa biomass project receives funding

By Luke Geiver | March 08, 2012

With a $25,000 grant, The Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant on a University of Iowa satellite campus will locate and procure additional sources of feedstock to supplement the oat hulls and wood waste its boiler already uses.

The funding for the plant, converted from coal in December 2011, came from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.

Ferman Milster, associate director in the university’s facilties management office and the office of sustainability, will coordinate the biomass feedstock project. Milster also led the biomass boiler installation project.

He will be joined by partners at the University of Northern Iowa, the U.S. Forest Service and the Iowa Flood Center, along with private industry consultants from the forestry and logistics sectors. The biomass partnership will research invasive species, switchgrass, miscanthus grass, and wood waste from small logging operations and storm debris.

The project will utilize a Geographic Information System to locate potential biomass within a 75-mile radius surrounding the Iowa City campus. In addition to researchers who will study potential feedstock options for the school’s boiler, separate teams will analyze the feasibility of a fuel yard that could receive, process or store large quantities of biomass.

“Our 2020 goal of 40 percent renewable energy offers an opportunity to engage the local economy for our energy supplies,” Milster said, adding that he is excited to work with the agriculture and forestry professions to develop renewable fuel supplies for the university.

In addition to the biomass project, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture also provided funding for twenty other projects related to the University of Iowa.

For more on the biomass boiler installation project, click here.