University of Iowa reduces use of coal with burning grass
Jay Kemp isn’t a farmer, but in a few days, he will have more than 100 acres of grass rhizomes on his property.
He won’t have to weed or spray his fields and in a year’s time, when the grass grows tall enough to be harvested, Kemp won’t harvest it.
The University of Iowa will.
The university has been burning the grass, known as Miscanthus, in its power plant to reduce its reliance on coal. At first glance, Miscanthus does not look like much. It begins as ginger-like rhizomes. As a grown plant, it is reminiscent of sugar cane, with tough dry stalks that sway in the wind.
But burning one acre of Miscanthus can offset four tons of coal in the power plant. And a field of Miscanthus can grow for a decade or more without replanting. Miscanthus is also ideal for Iowa because it can tolerate the harsh Iowa winters, and can’t produce seeds, so it won’t invade neighboring fields.