UI plans to use threatened ash trees to power campus - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI plans to use threatened ash trees to power campus

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

An invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees are threatening a large portion of eastern Iowa.

There are about 25 counties and an estimated 60-million ash trees across eastern Iowa threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer.

However, researchers in the Iowa City area may have found a way to reuse ash tree wood.

They say the wood from threatened ash trees, mixed coal produces steam providing electricity as an energy source.

Ferman Milster, principle engineer for University of Iowa Office of Sustainability says they could use the renewable fuel to help power the campus.

“The university has a goal to be 40 percent renewable by 2020,” said Milster. “Rather than having all this wood in the landfill or burned, we'll be able to use it for energy recovery.”

The power plant facility is the sole source of steam for the university and the hospital complex, providing heating and cooling for most if not all the buildings on campus.

Milster says they’re hoping to provide an opportunity for people to bring ash tree wood to their power plant to be used for energy generation.

“By replacing fossil fuel with fuel that’s here locally, we're able to help keep those funds within the state of Iowa, within the local area,” said Milster.

Although nothing is finalized yet, within the next few months Milster plans to have ways people can get their ash tree wood to the power plant to help with their biomass program.

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