Case of the Week: Week 21 - All-year-round greenhouse with no heating cost  

(@liudasmikal)
Admin

Are you interested in the off-grid living and farming? Do you have industrial agriculture facilities? The case of the week at SaltX Labs is all about saving money on greenhouse heating and improving the heating efficiency using SunCool technology.
Heating a square meter of space in an average greenhouse throughout a season costs over $22’000 using propane fuel. It is not an efficient use of energy. Food production is such greenhouses especially contributes to the CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Geothermal heating using soil as a thermal battery has been gaining a lot of traction in the last years. And for a reason – it can save most of the money spent on fuels. Pipes are laid in soil before building a greenhouse. Then during the summer, excess heat is stored in the ground while during the winter - heat is taken from the soil and distributed in the greenhouse. Such system can be further upgraded using solar collectors.
SaltX Technology has developed SunCool which produces heating and cool very efficiently. In summer, heat can be used to heat the soil very effectively while the cool can be used to reduce the temperature inside of the greenhouse. In winter, cool can be used to cool down the soil providing the heat needed for the plants. In such way the system can be set up in a very efficient and environmentally conscious way. Do you have ideas how to use SunCool by SaltX in the greenhouses? Would you like to monetize this market and help people save money while producing tasty veggies all year round?

Join over 200 other SaltX LABS forum members - register at saltxlabs.com to discuss and learn about our technology and start your own business!

Here are a few videos explaining how district heating works:
An explanation of geothermal heat storage
https://youtu.be/o2NtBCS2_WQ
More detailed description of a geothermal heated greenhouse
https://youtu.be/qA3YGYELZ98
Here you can read more about SunCool by SaltX
http://saltxtechnology.com/applications/suncool

ReplyQuote
Posted : 04/06/2018 12:07 am
(@james-bell)
New Member

Hi,

This case looks really interesting, but I'm a bit worried about your numbers. $22,000/sqm propane costs - those better be some tasty tomatoes!

Do you have something of a cost comparison between glass and poly greenhouses at different latitudes with 'conventional' heating/cooling systems versus those with SaltX's assistence? If the 2 1/2 year ROI is right, it would definitely be a case I'd be interested in investigating further. I just need to understand how you arrive at this claim to be able to sell the solution forward to potential customers.

Also, can the cooling effect be harnessed effectively in summer and how would the system be plumbed/connected to the greenhouse?

Cheers!
James

ReplyQuote
Posted : 08/06/2018 12:04 pm
(@liudasmikal)
Admin

Hi @james-bell! Welcome to the SaltX Labs community! First of all, sorry about the numbers - $22,000 is the cost of heating an average size non-commercial greenhouse through a season.

The payback time or ROI time has been calculated by finding an average cost of energy needed to produce heating and cooling that SunCool produces in a year. Then the price of SunCool was divided by that number.

We don't specialize in greenhouses and unfortunately we cannot compare glass with poly greenhouses but effective insulation makes a huge difference in energy consumption.

The cooling effect is the most effective in the summer. The best way to connect the panel is to build pipes to a radiator inside the greenhouse for heating or cooling. Alternatively, you could lay pipes in the ground to heat it up and cool it down seasonally.

James, where would you be looking to install this equipment? We would like to give you more information and help you understand the installation procedure of SunCool!

ReplyQuote
Posted : 11/06/2018 2:52 pm
(@james-bell)
New Member

Hi,

Thanks for the warm welcome. No worries about the numbers - it was more so that other readers didn't misread your case. It makes more sense now 🙂

I am interested in your product range from two different angles. I'l sketch each out a little...

1. We install solar systems on new builds in Denmark. We used to install ground pump heating systems as well, but concentrate on commercial-scale solar at the moment. When I look at the energy framework we need to meet when making proposals, I can see that it is driven by architects who have are working with assumptions from two years ago. Gradually, we are trying to work batteries, for example, into our propsal as component costs fall and building construstors become more aware of energy storage both on the heating and electrical side. I am personally a bit concerned about all the heavy metals in the current generation of Lithium Ion tech, so when I come across heat or power storage devices such as yours which appear cleaner, I like to investigate to see if there is something interesting I can bring to market.

2. On the side I am working to bring a socially-beneficial and low impact urban/vertical greenhouse to one of the 2nd cities in Denmark. One the issues that needs solving is the energy requirement (energy is expensive and still not entirely from green sources in DK) for heating and cooling the greenhouse. If we could avoid pulling on too much pricey grid power, or cut down on propane type systems, that would be great. This would be a public partnership type project in partnership with one of the big greenhouse builders in Denmark and a local municipality and NGO. I can imagine that if a SaltX system proved in this case to be more effective and cheaper than current, conventional solutions, that the greenhouse company would love to roll it out to their commercial, private customers. I would also try and find other uses for your product range that relate to Denmark's particular production sectors.

If you would like to get up to speed with the cutting edge of people playing with interesting growing operations both conventional and exotic, I warmly recommend the Association for Vertical Farming group on LinkedIn who share best practice, innovations and meet up to present at exhibitions. Nice bunch of people with all sorts of knowledge: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5053066/profile

I hope that gives you enough of an insight into the why, what, where and look forward to finding out more from you!

Best regards,
James

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/06/2018 3:15 pm
(@liudasmikal)
Admin

Hi @james-bell! Thanks a lot for a detailed message! I'm so happy you joined! Seems like we have so much in common!

Let me start from the 2nd part of your message.

I'm a huge fan of vertical faming and I have my ideas about integrating vertical farming and sustainable buildings. I'm very curious to learn more and I asked to join the LinkedIn group. My biggest inspiration for the thermal mass heating in the greenhouses was this video: https://youtu.be/ZD_3_gsgsnk
This installation is still fairly conceptual and requires fine tuning in different locations. But I think it can help reduce the energy consumption and costs considerably while adding locally sourced fruits and vegetables to the local ecosystem. I think with added SunCool the system could be even more effective. I'm really curious to hear your thoughts! Are you working with the city of Vejle by any chance?

As for SunCool installation in buildings - you are absolutely right! SaltX has many advantages. As you mentioned, Lithium ion batteries contain heavy metals and the supply chain for most of the ingredients is usually questionable in terms of fairness to the workers. In addition to that, heating and cooling are the most energy consuming processes in the buildings. Depending on the location and construction, in most of the buildings energy consumption for heating is over 50% of total power consumption. SunCool has the solution which is very sustainable in terms of production and recycling. SunCool has salts and alcohol in it, all materials found in many places around the world and sustainably sourced.
One thing to mention though - differently from photovoltaic panels, SunCool requires pipes to distribute heating or cooling liquids. Shoot me a message to liudas.mikal [at] saltxtechnology.com I will connect you with my colleague who is more knowledgeable in SunCool than me. I'd love to hop on a call to discuss the installations further!

Thanks a lot for your interest and looking forward to disusing this further!

Liudas.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 13/06/2018 10:37 am
(@james-bell)
New Member

Woooow, that greenhouse is amazing!

Yeah, I've seen similar things done with thermal mass such as Michael Reynold's earthships (warm climate) and using water and clever greenhouse design in cool climates such as BC, Canada  (about 9 minutes if you want to skip the house part) Considering that farming and land use is one of the 3 big sectors in Denmark and a big contributor to scoring so poorly on the ecofootprint rankings. If everybody lived like a Dane, we'd need 4.5 planets 🙁

With this info in mind, I approached Århus first, but found out that there are many, and slow, moving pieces. There is more or less one business property developer that have their hands on most of the urban growing spots (warehouses onthe docks for centralisation to population and pairing with electric minvans). It is quite hard to get the attention of this developer!

After consulting with the group who put together Vertical Harvest in the US, as well as a handful of different hydro/aero/biodynamic suppliers and entrepreneurs, the current best practice urban/vertical greenhouse model which has emerged is to work with a smaller, more agile kommune who have a decision maker or NGO with green interests already in motion. As you mention, Vejle is a good candidate as they have an active group around Økolariet and are well networked with the family behind LEGO who like to invest in interesting things in the area. Middelfart (great name huh?!) are also known for having green ambitions and Kolding has branded itself as the design city which could be adapted towards green design and sustainability. Something I love about the Vertical Harvest model, and which would be an easy sell to a kommune for sponsorship, is their inclusion of disabled or mentally challenged workers in their workforce. So they are providing locally sourced food, provided activation for people who might otherwise be overlooked or marginalised, and cutting right down on pesticide use. Amazing!

My intentions with the greenhouse side of things are purely non-profit, so if you know of a group in Vejle that would like a hand with energy calculations, technical drawings, sales/coordination/kicking down doors help, I'd love to collaboarte with them if you think they might be interested. I'm really just trying to get something interesting going using the best ideas and technology as possible. From a public project, I think there's the opportunity to scale the model into something commercial with expertise that the public project creates for those who are involved. This would be the seed to prove prototypical tech and concepts to gain broader coverage and acceptance.

As for the products SaltX have which are more "off-the-shelf ready," and in relation to my day job in the solar business, yes, I'd love to talk to someone about where the components best fit into typical setups today. Most of our business is currently in new build apartment blocks in the big cities, but we have a range of previous customers with warehouses and farms where I imagine it would be simply to plumb with a heat exchanger and provide tangible benefits. Please feel free to give my email or skype me to whoever you think can help us in this area. I've followed along with your online videos, but I probably need to dig a bit deeper into the system requirements to find the right projet fit.

Have an awesome day 🙂
James
jb (at) gfenergy.dk
sk: james.bell111

ReplyQuote
Posted : 18/06/2018 1:05 pm
(@liudasmikal)
Admin

Hi @james-bell! Thank you for such a descriptive answer! I saw the video about the geodesic domes in BC, Canada. I actually saw most of the Living big in a tiny house and Faircompanies videos. They are a great inspiration and show how much people care about sustainable projects. That's where I get a lot of ideas for a sustainable community of vertical farming and small homes. I'll tell you more about my project privately!

I think there are many cities in the Nordics which are very open to innovation and green projects but as you mentioned - some of them have low efficiencies. I'm very interested in Vejle and I think they have a lot of great ideas as well as support from organizations that want to make impact. Vertical Harvest looks like a great organization! How did you hear about them? Do you have other connections in the US? I lived in San Francisco for 4 years before moving to Stockholm and I have a lot of connections there but I haven't met anyone who built vertical farms or zero emission buildings.

I'll connect you with the SunCool experts. You can have a call with them when available. I am sure you can find great uses for SunCool, especially in farms.

Best wishes,
Liudas.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 19/06/2018 10:07 am
Share: