A Perpetual Harvest Greenhouse System: Integrating Barn, Biofilter, and Greenhouse

Khizar Mahmood, Daniel D Mann, Qiang Zhang, Anita Brule-Babel


A prototype was built to evaluate the performance of an integrated barn-biofilter-greenhouse system. The greenhouse floor in the integrated system consisted of a bed of gravel to store maximum solar energy. A vertical airflow biofilter (3.34 x 3.34 m) was constructed inside a solar energy greenhouse (floor area of 15 x 6.7 m); exhaust air from a barn was passed through the biofilter for odour treatment before being released into the greenhouse. A booster fan was used to provide a steady airflow rate of 1.4 m3/s to the biofilter. Data were collected from October 19 to December 6, 2007. The maximum temperature drop along the 15.5 m long, and insulated (R-20) duct carrying the exhaust air from the hog barn to the biofilter was 7°C. The lowest temperature recorded on top of the biofilter surface was 1.3°C when the biofilter booster fan was not working, while the lowest floor temperature was -3°C. On the coldest day in December, when the biofilter booster fan was not in service, the daily average temperature inside the greenhouse was 4.3°C, whereas the outdoor daily average temperature was -25°C. In order to keep the minimum greenhouse temperature at 10°C, the maximum required volumetric flow rate of barn exhaust air at 15°C was 1.60m3/s. Maximum hydrogen sulfide (H2S) removal efficiency was 55%. The weekly average concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) inside the greenhouse varied from 841 to 1536 ppm. The system has shown promise at creating an environment suitable for plant growth inside the greenhouse using a waste gas stream from a hog barn to provide both auxiliary heat and enhanced CO2 levels.

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