The University of Iowa hopes to save money and preserve the environment with a switch from burning coal to using hard crusts from kernels of grain instead. Ferman Milster, the U-of-I’s associate utility director, says oat hulls are a byproduct from the Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids. Milster says about half of the coal that would normally be burned in one boiler is being replaced with oat hulls. He calls oat hulls are a biomass fuel which, unlike coal, does not spew more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, something that’s considered a greenhouse gas. Oat hulls also don’t give off any more than just trace amounts of sulfur, while coal is one to two percent sulfur, which is shown to be an acid rain precursor. Milster says the Cedar Rapids factory generates many thousands of tons of oat hulls as part of its cereal production which normally go to landfills. He says burning oat hulls could save the U-of-I up to a half-million dollars a year and 30-housand tons of coal.
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