SolaRoof technology is applied to create Closed Controlled Ecological Environment (CCEE) applications, including Farm-scale AgriPOD, and Mega-scale CityPOD which produce sustainable food+energy+water regenerative resources that address three of the main environmental issues of our time: 1) energy; 2) carbon footprint; 3) fresh water crisis - while growing local, abundant food in any climate.
The SolaRoof bubble insulation and shading technology has been tested and proven to work in virtually any climate. SolaRoof bubble buildings can be built from scratch, DIY-style with recycled material, as well as from high quality modular building kits that can be bought from any supply chain connected to the POD Enterprise Network.
Through crowdsourcing efforts there are multiple SolaRoof designs being made, examples of kits are LifePOD that is a homeowner and family scale unit, the AgriPOD that is local community enterprise size and the CityPOD, a large scale unit for large communities.
The SolaRoof system is an integrative use of life-science for a new type of closed cycle energy production system with the potential to revolutionize the way sustainable food production is approached and how human habitat can reduce the carbon footprint of 8 to 12 billion people. The SolaRoof system uses the science of photosynthesis from plant biology, heat transfer from engineering thermodynamics and modern materials science. Together, the SolaRoof system is able to create a Closed Controlled Ecological Environment that suits both agriculture and human habitation.
In its basic form, a SolaRoof is conceived that uses a dynamic process of 1) Liquid Bubble technology that is used for shade (daytime) or for its insulating properties (nighttime); and 2) a thin liquid film (of water + soap), the Liquid Solar technology, is a cooling liquid flow on or within the inner transparent cover of the SolaRoof. This dynamic flowing liquid film serves to provide: for heat transfer, for algae culture (maximising photosynthesis), and for precipitation of condensation of plant transpired moisture from the Closed Atmosphere of the roof garden. Our system emulates many of the processes found in nature, and applies them to benefit the human society and the environment together rather than merely to give benefit to one at the expense of the other. Taken as a whole, the SolaRoof CCEE will reduce energy use by more than 90% over conventional construction without harmful pollution and environmental damage, including deforestation and soil degradation. But even more significant is the energy capture and conversion that will produce abundance of essential “life support” resources through closed cycle processes that greatly reduce input costs.
SolaRoof CCEE are ideal for CO2 mitigation and enables a comprehensive integrated sequestration using a closed atmosphere system. In the typical modern greenhouse that does not employ the SolaRoof concepts there are many issues to be addressed; among them: With respect to CO2 an ideal enrichment of 1000 ppm CO2 is never sustained continuously in practice and 60% or more of the added CO2 is lost through ventilation.
Today, heating using with fossil fuel represents at least 50% of overall costs of greenhouse operations, and as fuel prices escalate due to “End-of-Oil” the result is food (including field grown grains) that is priced, as a commodity, out of reach of half of the world’s population. Greenhouses are therefore forced to locate in warmer areas, often a great distance from the consumer markets with associated high transportation costs. Natural gas is commonly used to heat greenhouses and to produce CO2 enriched atmosphere, but with conventional greenhouses most CO2 generated is lost to the outside atmosphere via venting. Each part of the heating process is inefficient and produces CO2 whether it is fuel burnt in the greenhouse or fuel burnt at the power station.
Cooling and humidity control is also inefficient. Currently, the most common way to cool is by venting which releases 60% of added CO2. Humidity is controlled by ‘burst’ heating then venting which creates a heating / cooling seesaw effect and is very energy intensive. In arid-lands and regions of drought and water crisis greenhouses are consuming large quantities of water through the losses (to ventilation) of the transpired water of the plant canopy and losses of evaporative cooling systems. The CCEE eliminates these losses and creates a large quantity of pure (water-from-air) condensate water every day which can be consumed first as potable, drinking and household use and cycled back to the plant crops as grey water. The standard AgriPOD produces 5 tons of pure transpired condensate per day. Pure water generation alone is sufficient to quickly return the capital investment in the AgriPOD.
Closed greenhouses have been the subject of much research over the last 30 years. One of the recent Dutch research project is Innogrow that offers several benefits to the users. Low temperature groundwater is used as a coolant or heat sink for the mechanical heat-pump cooling system, with heated coolant returned to a second groundwater site to store as low temperature heat, with reverse circulation in winter for input to heat-pump heating system. The humidity can be maintained at 70 – 90%, the CO2 at 1000 ppm with the use of 40 – 50% less energy and getting 20% or more higher yields. But the Innogrow system still uses highly inefficient glasshouses with no insulation properties, the use of groundwater depends very much on the specifics of the site, and using heat-pump mechanical system is significantly more expensive to build and maintain than a standard greenhouse. The control of humidity is difficult and climate sensitive. Essentially, Innogrow is an attempt at using expensive heat-pump system and technology developed for commercial and industrial buildings within an inefficient glasshouse structure.
SolaRoof has succeeded in moving beyond this stage of development to a system that is closer to the ideal sustainable closed greenhouse. The ideal system collects solar radiant heat and stores it until needed. Heating is obtained without using fossil fuels and cooling without the need for expensive engineering. An ideal system would retain all transpired water, and be readily adaptable to any climate. There would be no release of CO2 to atmosphere. The ideal is to be “greener than a greenhouse”.
The SolaRoof gets to this ideal by creating an “EcoDynamic” system that controls the building envelope so that it provides a dynamic environment control rather than merely being a passive building component. SolaRoof uses the largest surface area, the roof to control the environment dynamically: 1) using nighttime insulating Liquid Bubble technology, which is 30 times better insulation value than glass; 2) using daytime Liquid Cooling to remove solar heat and cool the internal environment, and collect pure condensate water; and, 3) using, as needed, daytime Liquid Bubble Shading in very hot regions. An AgriPOD vertical farm demonstrates controlled temperature and humidity by utilizing the plants own powerful processes of transpiration and the latent heat of evaporation. In peak radiative loads, the insulating bubbles may be used as dynamic shading. Diurnal heat requirements can be supplemented on occasion by low energy heat pump system or with geothermal sources, which are abundant in Iceland.
The energy savings with the CCEE operations applies to both heating and cooling of a quality that is equivalent to mechanical heatpump systems - a standard that regulates accurately both the temperature and humidity - is a value of about $30 to $50 per m2 per year - the AgriPOD has about 1000 m2 of building envelope and the savings are projected at as much as $50,000/year. This energy saving increases profitability of operations significantly, however there is additionally the contribution of the Biofuels produced daily from photosynthesis. Energy cost is reduced but there is a net energy of 10 metric Tons of Oil Equivalent (TOE) from the Algae, which is an electric power of roughly 120,000 kWh. Operational consumption is only about half of this projected clean energy resource. The Biogas production will approximately double this electrical energy generation for a total resource of the order of 240,000 kWh per year.
This “EcoDynamic” CCEE is adaptable to any climatic conditions, and enables viable artificial lighting with CO2 enrichment that can increase yields more than 150% higher than other advanced greenhouses, producing up to 150 Kg/m2/year for top growers. The SolaRoof Garden, at the rooftop level (of any building), is also referred as the Green Zone and is supplemented in food yield by the Blue Zone which is located in the subfloor level of the BlueGreen building design, where we have pools and tanks of water for purpose of fish, krill, shrimp, Algae and other Aquaculture operations. The integration of the (Blue) Aquaculture and the (Green) Vertical Farm is commonly referred to as Aquaponics operations, which reflects a synergy between the Blue and the Green. The BlueGreen concept that we deliver goes farther than the typical Aquaponics operations by inclusion of a complete microbiotic system consisting of Fungi, Algae, and Bacteria (both anaerobic and aerobic), which work together with the macrobiotic level (of plants and animals) to make our design fully regenerative.
Research from our several Proof Of Concept (POC) projects in Canada and in Norway demonstrate that there can be more than a 90% reduction of energy use, the system can operate for a 12 month growing season and attract out of season premium prices as well as increasing yield by more than 50%. Capital costs are competitive to other buildings of similar engineering specification; equivalent to current glasshouse costs but with much better performance.
A sealed greenhouse needs a source of CO2 which is normally adequately supplied from standard heating systems, but can be obtained in the SolaRoof system using the Biogas from Anaerobic Digestion (AD). Biomass produced can be doubled by using fast growing algae species grown in the SolaRoof with the bloom, or multiplication phase, in the liquid thermal mass tanks with maximum CO2 enrichment.
The SolaRoof system is applied to maximize output of Biofuel crops. Together with maximum plant yields and CO2 uptake, algae becomes viable as a supplemental energy source. CO2 is used in a ‘closed’ cycle, and containment and uptake is so effective that it could be classed as CO2 sequestration process and attract Carbon Credits. As an integrated part of a bio-energy production plant, SolaRoof CCEE offers the ability to maximize crop growth even in non agricultural settings – and exploit plant types unused to date which are far superior to current biofuels crops.
The SolaRoof CCEE technology has many markets. It can be adapted for use as a bio-chiller and used in power stations to reduce the use of tower chillers with their high consumption of water and wasted energy. The SolaRoof technology also serves in an integrated bio-energy production plant to maximise water conservation - even generate water surplus in arid land regions - and exploits an evaporative cooling system that regenerates pure water rather than consuming fresh water resources.
SolaRoof Closed Controlled Ecological Environment
The SolaRoof Liquid Solar component makes use of a water thermal mass in connection with a transparent, thin-liquid-film solar energy collector formed over the interior roof layer which, while absorbing excess solar gain also controls the building climate. The absorber, a thin Liquid film, is transparent to the solar visible (and PAR spectrum) but opaque to the re-radiative thermal and solar infrared and provides a “radiative filter”. The system includes a heat rejection process within a “chiller cavity” space in the building envelope where the thin Liquid film “rejects” energy in the form of evaporative losses. The evaporative “chiller process” produces a colder thermal mass and the extracted latent heat is then stored in the cold thermal mass that functions as a heat sink.
Liquid Bubble Insulation & Shading System
The dynamic Liquid Bubble Insulation system uses the “BubbleTech” insulation process in a modular re-circulating duct-like cavity space within a building envelope. The process assures the complete filling, regeneration or destruction of Liquid Bubbles in a roof or wall cavity. This innovation is a breakthrough technology that facilitates the control of an environment using dynamic control.
Transparent Cover and modular components for SolaRoof structure
The SolaRoof canopy system for a building structure has great simplicity that combines functionality with strength at a least lifetime cost. SolaRoof is developing a set of elements to make up a “standard modular system” of construction that can be adapted to a wide variety of applications worldwide. The first conceptual designs offer is a package for rural vertical farming, AgriPOD and a larger urban concept with integrated human habitat called CityPOD. AgriPOD development and demonstration is well underway with PODnet, a global COOP established with leadership from Iceland. The CityPOD is moving forward as a joint development by SolaRoof International and UrbanFeed of Norway.
Mechanical, electrical and electronic control/automation kits
The SolaRoof system is a complete system that uses solar energy dynamically to produce an optimum environment with the least consumption and waste of energy. This requires electrical and mechanical components as part of the overall system. These components can be obtained in either a SolaRoof kit form, or through local purchase using SolaRoof standard OpenSource specifications.
Composite Materials for building envelope systems
SolaRoof has developed a process for manufacturing “SolaFabric” with a coating material of an advanced, resistant composition so that the various dynamic building envelope systems can operate successfully without significant deterioration or damage due to extreme climate events (wind, hail, snow, flood, etc). This technology is fundamental to the creation of cost effective Architectural Fabric building envelopes and ongoing improvements offer the means for reduction in the cost of the material and an ability to prefabricate advanced, durable transparent building envelopes.
Knowledge of the SolaRoof science has been made available in the Open Knowledge arena because of its societal value and importance as a foundation for a very much more energy efficient society. There is a growing community of scientists and other professionals that now have knowledge of the available SolaRoof science and how it can be used to improve energy efficiency. This is evolving into a SolaRoof movement, with the example of the POD Enterprise Network, or PODnet, that is a COOP bringing the technology to the attention of a broad public who see the actions of our PODpioneers.
The controlled SolaRoof environment is a closed atmosphere enriched with CO2 for optimized plant growth and water production. Plants within SolaRoof environment, withalgae use the Photosynthetic Active Radiation energy from sunlight to produce biomass from carbon dioxide, water and nutrients. The carbohydrates are converted into biomethane that is generated with a process of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) to fuel clean, zero carbon electric power generation. The effluent is a nutrient rich source of organic fertilizer for the growing of our food, feed, fiber and fuel crops.
The water based soap solution is stored within tanks within SolaRoof environment and is circulated with pumps to flow in a thin film over the inner layer of the (double layered) building envelope and is collected back to these tanks that are coupled by heat exchangers to a Liquid Thermal Mass system. Solar thermal energy is captured and stored in the winter to provide warmth to the Liquid Bubble Insulation at night. Or, on a hot and sunny summer day the Liquid Cooling and Bubble Shading system delivers chilling energy to the building envelope for low cost climate control.
TheSolaRoof Closed Ecological Environment is able to operate off-grid and with system that is described above, it generates a surplus of energy for human habitats and growing operation that is powered on clean sustainable energy, from the biofuel from the AD and with oil from the Mass Algae Culture system that creates high value from both biomass and organic nutrients materials.
The SolaRoof bubble insulation and shading technology has been tested and proven to work in virtually any climate. SolaRoof bubble buildings can be made from scratch in a DIY style with recycled material, as well as from high quality modular DIY buiding kit´s can be bought from the POD Enterprise Network.
SolaRoof is disruptive structural technology that has undergone research and developments for more than 30 years. First the technology was widely patented but in 2001 the patents where dedicated to Creative Commons licenses to ensure that all humans could access and apply the technology.
The Sola Roof next generation "greenhouse" for DIY is FREE for use by individuals, families and family farms. It is totally "new and improved" approach to the well known Tunnel Greenhouse, which includes:
- Structure Tech - strong, light metal Structures
- Fabric Tech - high strength, high transparency covers
- Liquid Solar Tech - for Solar Controlled Environments
- Bubble Tech - for dynamic liquid Insulation & Shading
- Controlled Environment - for closed atmosphere, CO 2 enriched growing
- Phyto Tech - algae biomass culture for Bio Fuel
- Open Eco Design - a collaboration to develop the ecological life support systems required for self reliant homes and communities
SolaRoof offers strong light metal structures shielded with transparent high strength high tech plastic cover shield. The SolaRoof building technology features liquid solar technology for closed controlled environments. The bubble technology provides dynamic liquid insulation and shading properties for cooling, collecting and storing heat from the sun.
The controlled SolaRoof environment is closed atmosphere enriched with CO2 for optimized plant growth and oxygen production. Plants within SolaRoof atmosphere, with some bacteria and protistans use the energy from sunlight to produce glucose from carbon dioxide and water. The glucose is converted into pyruvate that releases adenosine triphosphate(ATP) by cellular respiration to form oxygen.
The water within SolaRoof environment sits on the inner layer of the structure and can be collected into tanks from the lower end of the walls system.
Closed SolaRoof environment is off-grid system that generates surplus energy for human habitats and growing operation that is runned on clean sustainable energy, biofuel from mass algae culture system that creates high value from biomass and organic waste materials.
The SolaRoof bubble insulation and shading technology has been tested and proven to work in virtually any climate. SolaRoof bubble buildings can be made from scratch DIY style with recycled material, as well as high quality modular DIY buiding kit´s can be bought from the POD Enterprise Network.