Biomass Greenhouse-heating systems to extend growing seasons for resource-limited farmers

EPA Grant Number: SU835939
Title: Biomass Greenhouse-heating systems to extend growing seasons for resource-limited farmers
Investigators: Yu, Ok-Youn
Institution: Appalachian State University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: II
Project Period: October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2017
Project Amount: $74,555
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2015) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainability , P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy

Objective:

The proposed grant funding will allow us to advance the technologies we have developed in the past to a point that full technology transfer is possible. The Nexus research team will address three critical objectives that, once met, will allow the technology to be feasibly transferred to area farmers: 1) Complete integration of heating, storage, and delivery systems; 2) Development of an innovative, appropriate‐scale cleaning and storage system for on‐demand use of farm gasses; and 3) Outreach to farmers to assess needs and determine new greenhouse production capacities.

Approach:

We conducted component research about various greenhouse heating sources during the first phase. In Phase II, we will puzzle all the components to one piece, the totally integrated greenhouse heating system. We will reconnect to the local farming community with what we have developed so far with the intention of gaining their insight and recommendations. Some of the emerging ideas that we are currently working on and intend to develop further through Phase II are: above grade tubing for radiant heat, aquaponics, and agricultural research.

In addition, we are eager to pursue the custom fabrication of our own equipment that would allow our farm gasses to be usefully stored on‐site in liquid propane containers at 150 PSI, thereby creating a seasonal buffer which moderates greenhouse heat in colder months with energy generated in warmer months. We will design and build an appropriate‐scale pressurized water scrubbing system and analyze the gas through gas chromatography to ensure it is of optimal quality to proceed with compression research.

Finally, once we have completed the market overview and feasibility study, we will drive a user‐friendly model using the results from our greenhouse testing experiments and the assessment study. The model will calculate the break‐even cost of greenhouse produce, or in other words, what farmers’ produce would have to sell for to make their investment pay‐off.

Expected Results:

This research will allow us to complete the integrated biomass greenhouse heating system, so the Nexus project will be able to offer various research and educational opportunities for students and local communities. The Nexus site will be utilized as a research facility conducting: 1) demonstration of the entire system; 2) proof of our concept by evaluating a growing season extension; and 3) outreach programs. This will also allow us to get ready for technology transfer to local farms and will accelerate our main goal, “enhancing local economy and sustainability.”

Supplemental Keywords:

biomass energy, greenhouse heating, limited‐resource farming, biogas compression, pyrolysis, synthesis gas, biogas, compost heating, thermal mass, greenhouse;

Relevant Websites:

P3 Phase 1: Biomass Greenhouse-Heating Systems to Extend Growing Seasons for Resource-Limited Farmers

P3 Phase I:

Biomass Greenhouse-Heating Systems to Extend Growing Seasons for Resource-Limited Farmers