Doctoral research in progress
These three greenhouses are 20% of their original size. The wooden figures inside would be 150 cm (approximately 5 foot) tall in real life. The full size version of these greenhouses are intended to be used in drylands where growing food crops is very difficult due to the lack or expense of irrigation water. Drylands are areas with very little rainfall, similar to the regions here in the Mediterranean Biome.
Usually the ‘skin’ of greenhouses are either made of glass or plastic. The greenhouses here are a little bit different. The outer skin is made of a knitted material which blocks the sunlight, preventing the scorching of the sensitive plants inside. This protective layer reacts to the amount of sunshine: More sunshine > hotter it gets > more it closes its pores >reducing the amount of sun rays into the greenhouse.
What makes these greenhouses really different is that it ‘makes’ its own water. A process called ‘moisture harvesting’. Similar to when a knitted sweater is left outside during the night. Even when it was a completely dry night, this sweater feels damp. This dampness is caused by fibres having absorbed the water which is in the air (or better: shares the same space as air). On a dry day, this sweater will eventually dry. The water in the fibres evaporated.
This research investigates this process. Preventing the moisture collected overnight from evaporating and to use it as irrigation water instead. The white/chequered water harvesting fabric is visible inside the greenhouse. The Mediterranean Biome at the eden project provides an environment very close to the conditions in the drylands. There is a weather station outside the greenhouses, constantly measuring the temperature and the humidity. The weather station can also measure the wind direction, wind speed and direction. Within the biome these are not relevant. Inside the greenhouses in the back is another sensor, measuring temperature and humidity.
With this set-up data will be collected which will show what difference in climate the greenhouse makes. The collected data will be stored online. The data from the weather station inside the Mediterranean Biome can be viewed by clicking the weather sticker above (it will link directly to the data of the outside weather station). By analysing those weather data, the best way of designing a self-sufficient greenhouse can be found.
Many thanks to the Eden Team; especially to Catherine Cutler, Michael Cutler and Dina Gallick who made this installation possible. Many thanks also to Diana, Carla and all of the Narrator Team, tirelessly answering visitor’s questions. Thank you Sue for your support, patience and understanding. You can have the garage, living room and spare bedroom back.
The installation was on display from June 2016 to December 2016. The greenhouse with the knitted glass as cover found a new home in the ‘Secret Garden’ at the Ipsley CE RSA Academy.
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