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University of Iowa News Release

May 17, 2005

UI Power Plant Wins Award For Innovation In Replacing Coal With Oat Hulls

The University of Iowa Power Plant has won a national award for its innovative use of oat hulls to replace coal in generating power.

The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers selected Iowa to receive an Effective and Innovative Practices award for its Biomass Fuel Project. That project, which uses waste oat hulls from the Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids, will save the University the UI roughly a half million dollars in fuel costs each year. Oat hulls, a biomass fuel, are recognized as "green energy" because there is no net increase of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Ferman Milster, associate director for utilities and energy management, said, "This project was made possible because of the hard work and dedication of the entire UI Power Plant staff. Our first efforts were not very successful, but the Power Plant team believed that this would work, and refused to give up."

The team then devised a way to modify one of Iowa's coal-burning boilers to also burn oat hulls, thereby allowing a savings of over 17,000 tons of coal annually. The project also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, utilizes a renewable waste product and helps the University reduce its costs at a time of serious budget reductions.

"In addition," said Milster, "this project has helped us form a strong university-industry partnership with Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids."

The UI Biomass Fuel Project also has received two Iowa Governor's awards.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Charles S. Drum, 319-384-0048, charles-drum@uiowa.edu; Program: Ferman Milster, 319-335-5132, ferman-milster@uiowa.edu