Smart Passive Ambient Control for Indoor Vertical Farming by Simulation and Empirical Study
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The objective of this research is to design and develop a smart passive temperature control system for indoor vertical farming by simulation and empirical study. Passive temperature control is defined as the process of controlling or manipulating the temperature of a system with natural heat transfer like conduction, convection, and radiation, etc. and the purpose is to reduce energy consumption. And indoor vertical farming (IVF) can be defined as the practice of growing produce stacked one above another in a closed and controlled environment. With many benefits of IVF like saving space, unaffected by adverse weather, minimize water usage, fresh food production, reducing transportation cost, etc., it also has some challenges like temperature and humidity, air circulation, equipment setup due to limited space, energy consumption due to artificial lights, etc. Among all the challenges, the high temperature of air and water inside the closed environment is a big issue and it can be mitigated by passive temperature control. This research will focus on how the temperature of the water for growing plants can be controlled using passive temperature control.
The IVF in EverGreen lab in the Freeman Center, San Marcos, TX is considered as the case study to implement passive temperature control (PTC) system. First, the theoretical calculation of the energy required to cool down the system make it favorable for the plants is estimated and compared with the energy consumption after adding PTC and found that the energy consumption for cooling down the system can be reduced by using passive temperature control combining with the active cooling system. Then a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model is developed to simulate the effect of outside temperature on the indoor air and water and the model is validated with experimental data. The purpose of CFD model is to simulate the temperature of indoor air and water and any given time of the day and year which will save time and equipment required for actual data collection and also find the optimum time period for transferring water from inside to outside as a PTC process and found that, with the combination of material or methods for conduction, convection & radiation can help to balance the indoor temperature from the external ambient temperature. Later, an empirical study is done based on observation and measurement of temperature data of air and water both from inside and outside of the shipping container in order to validate the simulation and use the water or growing solution as heat storage material which can be transferred from outside to inside for controlling temperature naturally. Finally, an integrative system is developed with the design of experiments by combining all the passive cooling systems that can reduce energy consumption and keep the environment livable to plants.