New Form of Power
An MU professor wanted to try this after a student told him about how his grandfather used to dip corn cobs into diesel fuel and use them as fire starters.
"That same type of an idea could be put into use here," said MU Professor Leon Schumacher.
And the power plant was excited about it.
"We're very hopeful and very excited about the fact that we could possibly burn a bio-fuel here in mid-Missouri," said Gregg Coffin with the MU Power Plant.
They're excited for a number of different reasons. The new fuel could support local farmers. And it could lower fuel costs.
"It's important here at MU to keep finding ways to reduce our costs of delivering service to the campus," Coffin said.
But the plant says that's not even the biggest advantage.
"We'll see a reduction in pollutants as well as benefits of greenhouse gas reduction," Coffin said.
"And we'll have a renewable product. Something that we don't have to go and open up a bunch more ground and pull some more coal out of," Schumacher said.
And the plant doesn't think it will have to modify it's facilities to accommodate the corn. But the plan isn't all worked out yet.
"The cobs are about 2/3 to 3/4 the energy value of the coal," Schumacher said.
So they're going to keep working on it. Right now the plant is only using about 5% corn cobs in the mixture. But it could increase the percentage as it experiments more with the process. The plant's been experimenting with the process for about a year, and it expects about another year before the process is perfected.