Anyone interested in bioenergy and biomass production will have an opportunity to learn about the latest developments with the University of Iowa’s Biomass Fuel Project, by attending a Dec. 13 meeting in Cedar Rapids.
The university has been growing its own biomass fuel — giant miscanthus — since 2013 and is in the process of transitioning away from using coal, with a goal of being coal-free by 2025. The university also uses oat hulls and energy pellets as part of its biomass mix.
The university has implemented an innovative and sustainable strategy to transition off of coal while focusing on providing reliable energy to the campus, research facilities, and the University of Iowa hospitals and clinics. This strategy includes growing a portfolio of locally sourced biomass and partnering with local farmers to develop a miscanthus energy crop.
Growing an energy crop
Emily Heaton, associate professor and biomass crop Extension specialist at Iowa State University, says the meeting will be an opportunity for Iowans to learn more about the opportunities of growing miscanthus, as well as the opportunities and challenges of bioenergy.
The University of Iowa works with an agricultural service company to pay farmers to grow the miscanthus on more than 1,000 acres according to Heaton. She is also involved with biomass research at the ISU BioCentury Research Farm west of Ames.
Attendees at the Cedar Rapids meeting will learn about this public-private relationship involving the University of Iowa and the miscanthus project, which provides economic opportunities and environmental benefits.
“Miscanthus is a perennial crop, so it does really good things for soil, water and wildlife habitat, while also replacing the university’s demand for coal,” Heaton says. “This Dec. 13 meeting will provide an update on what is happening with the power plant, the crop and the research.”
The meeting will be at the ISU Extension Linn County office, 383 Collins Road NE, No. 201, in Cedar Rapids. The public portion of the meeting runs from 10 to 11:30 a.m., and the private partners and growers meeting is from noon to 2 p.m. and includes lunch. Registration is free and can be done online. For more information, contact Emily Heaton at 515-294-1310, or firstname.lastname@example.org.