Oat hulls, a byproduct of cereal production, are the source of 20% of the fuel consumed at the University of Iowa’s main power plant.
The university burns the environmentally friendly hulls from a Quaker Oats facility in nearby Cedar Rapids to generate steam. This energy replaces coal, and no noxious CO2 emissions enter the atmosphere.
The partnership also benefits Quaker Oats, which needs to dispose of 350 tons of hulls per day. The company can store 3 days worth of hulls, but it then runs out of space—and the hulls would end up in landfills.
The hulls also provide an economic bonus for the university: They’re 50% cheaper than coal.
Engineering students are now working with experts to see if a second coal boiler can be converted to burn oat hulls.
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