On The Radio – UI research examines efficiency of oat hulls as energy source

The University of Iowa’s main power plant has been experimenting with a coal-oat hull mix to generate electricity on campus. (UI Facilities Management)
October 19, 2015

This week’s On The Radio segment looks at CGRER member Betsy Stone and her latest research examining the effectiveness of burning oat hulls to fuel the campus’s power plant.

Transcript: UI Study Examines Impact of Burning Oat Hulls

The burning of a cereal byproduct could be an effective way of reducing fossil carbon emissions in energy production.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Iowa examined the efficiency of burning oat hulls along with coal to produce electricity at the campus’s power plant. The reachers found that, when compared to burning just coal, a 50-50 oat hull-coal mix produced 40 percent fewer fossil carbon emissions and significantly reduced the release of particulate matter, hazardous substances, and heavy metals into the atmosphere.

From UI assistant professor of chemistry and CGRER member Betsy Stone:

BETSY STONE: “When burning 50 percent oat hulls and 50 percent coal  by weight, emissions of particulate natter are reduced by 90 percent. This is attributed to the high efficiency of oat hull combustion leaving behind less unburned carbon as well as reductions to the amount of limestone added to the fluidized bed boiler to control sulfur dioxide.”

The UI partnered with Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids to purchase discarded oat hulls in 2003 and now burns about 40,000 tons of the cereal byproduct annually. Equipment at the power plant was retrofitted to burn the oat hulls in the most efficient way possible.

For more information about this study and other energy initiatives on the UI campus visit Iowa-Environmental-Focus-dot-org

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.


UN report: World Could Run on 80 Percent Renewable Energy by 2050

A portion of the World's largest windfarm. 259 wind turbines over 200 feet tall located in Cherokee and Buena Vista Counties in Northwest Iowa. Together they produce 192,750 kW of energy. Photo by Jim Hammer, Wikimedia Commons.

But Governments Must First Pursue Appropriate Policies, Report Says

UN News Service

Renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind, biomass and hydropower could meet nearly 80 percent of the world’s energy supplies by 2050 if governments pursue policies that harness their potential, a United Nations-backed report released Monday says.

The findings of more than 120 researchers working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that if the path of renewable source is fully followed, greenhouse gas emissions could stay low enough to keep the rise in global temperatures by the middle of the century to below 2 degrees. Continue reading