- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa is hoping it will be able to use grass as a biofuel to help power the campus

About 70 people, including University of Iowa officials, on Wednesday toured Dan Black’s farm where he is growing giant miscanthus, a tropical tallgrass native to east Asia, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported (https://icp-c.com/1lXVkcv ).

The University of Iowa is aiming to use less energy in 2020 than it did in 2010, even as its campus expands. By 2020, the college wants to have 40 percent of its energy derived from renewable sources, according to Ben Anderson, the university’s power plant manager.

The school has been increasing its use of burning oat hulls in an attempt to draw down how much coal it burns at its power plant. The university plans to test the grass by burning it in its boilers next week.

Black approached the university to offer a portion of his property for its pilot project, with the college renting the 15 acres for five years and paying for the planting, maintenance and harvest of the grass. The school is also working with a farm near Muscatine to grow the grass.

“It just seems to make sense, if we can grow energy,” Black said. “It’s a renewable energy source - it just seems like it’s worth a try, worth the effort and worth the experimentation to see if this will work for us.”

The University of Iowa has said it hopes to plant an extra 2,500 acres of the plant by 2016.

Black said it is clear the grass has taken a liking to Iowa’s soil. In some areas, the grass has grown higher than 6 feet, which is about twice as tall as generally expected in its first year of growth, said Emily Heaton, an Iowa State University assistant professor of agronomy.


Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/

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