Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

The Affordable Bioshelters Project: Testing Innovative Technologies, Working to Make High Performance Solar Greenhouses Cost Competitive

EPA Grant Number: SU833683
Title: The Affordable Bioshelters Project: Testing Innovative Technologies, Working to Make High Performance Solar Greenhouses Cost Competitive
Investigators: Raichle, Brian W. , Oswald, Stony Roscoe , Strauch, Yonatan
Current Investigators: Raichle, Brian W. , Strauch, Yonatan
Institution: Appalachian State University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 31, 2007 through July 31, 2008
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability



The Affordable Bioshelter Project is a student led effort to develop and test technologies that have the potential to bring the dramatic energy savings of solar greenhouses to a wide market by reducing the installation costs of these energy efficient greenhouses. The goal for phase II is to gather more in-depth and definitive data, use it to refine designs, and share results within a critical, but supportive dissemination network.


To this end, a three prong research program is being implemented. (1) At the Bioshelters Test Site Long-term controlled comparisons of liquid foam insulation (LFI) and the Earth Charger (EC) are conducted, as well as tests comparing various foams and variations to the EC system to advance the understanding of the systems and their combination. (2) Liquid Foam Insulation Research and Development: From the lab to a full-scale prototype, all the elements of the liquid foam generation and cavity system are carefully designed and tested to overcome a series of problems discovered during Phase I. The final outcome is a simple to install product that can be shown to pay for itself in energy savings in five years. (3) Bioshelter Retrofit Field study: Fuel use and yields are recorded in two greenhouses at Lily Patch Organic Farms. The same variety of crops is grown between December and March. One greenhouse is retrofitted with a subsoil Earth Charger. The subsoil is heated further to 70-80° F by a compost exhaust heat utilization system. Argon-filled bags being tested at University of Manitoba are used as transparent glazing insulation. Following a winter of research Disseminations activities will begin: Technology and Business students work together to develop a performance and economic analysis of the studied systems. A workshop brings together our collaborators and stakeholders, including current and future greenhouse growers, organic advocates, and pioneers and researchers of LFI, sub-soil heat storage, and compost exhaust utilization. An in-depth interactive website is developed to gain a wide audience for affordable bioshelter technologies.

Expected Results:

The economic feasibility and limitations of technologies investigated will be evaluated, including for liquid foam insulation, subsoil heat storages, and compost exhaust heating. These systems will save most of the energy and money spent to heat greenhouses in exchange for a higher up-front investment, which it is recoverable within five years from energy savings. Technologies and systems that are ready to be implemented will be shared with the growing public.

Supplemental Keywords:

Agriculture, horticulture, renewable energy, sustainable development, sustainable agriculture, biosystems engineering,

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract
Phase 1 Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:
2008 Progress Report