Robotics Controllers Multipoint Digital I/O & 24Ch A/D & D/A (Commercial and Military)
Complex Waveform Generators (Commercial and Military)
16/24 Channel Electric Fence Detection and System Controller
Fast Prototyping and Concept Proofing (Lake/Ocean bottom Silt Level Detection)
Cellulose Ethanol Processing and Co-Generation
Hydroponic Lighting and Robotics
PROCESS/ PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:
closed greenhouse system
year round operation
optimum growing conditions
A GroWarium is a closed environment greenhouse system that dramatically increases crop yields in comparison to conventional greenhouse systems. The synergistic use of proprietary technologies enables precise control of critical growth parameters while reducing overall energy requirements. The modular system allows fresh, pesticide free produce to be locally grown year round independent of weather, climate, or soil conditions and at low operating and energy costs per unit of production.
Figure 1 depicts an individual GroW Chamber. Novel approaches to the overall design, heating, and ventilation of the system allow the GroWarium operator to optimize and maintain temperature, humidity, light, nutrient, water, and carbon dioxide levels. Historically, attempts to maintain closed greenhouse environments have been plagued by unacceptably high operating costs. Conventional greenhouse systems suffer from an inability to fully control growth conditions, leading to stressed crops and low yields. Conventional greenhouses must open large window areas to cool and ventilate crops, thereby losing direct control of variables such as temperature, humidity, and CO2. This also allows outside elements to enter (pests, fungus spores, and chemical sprays from neighboring fields).
PROCESS/ PRODUCT APPLICATION:
genetically modified crops (testing and production)
Vortex will build grow chambers for the commercial scale production of "high value plant products" ranging from high quality produce to plant materials for biopharmaceuticals (Table 1). Our grow chambers are particularly suited to the growing of pesticide free and contamination free plant materials with consistent and controlled levels of active ingredients, including exotic plant materials for the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and nutraceutical industries. Over 40% of our existing pharmaceuticals are extracted from plant sources.
The Vortex process is strongly competitive in applications where locating a grow chamber close to a market or processor allows for just-in-time delivery of consistent, high quality fresh products 365 days of the year. Inventory costs are reduced along with seasonal labour costs, logistics costs, transport costs, multi-step border and receiving inspections, and waste and spoilage due to long transport and handling times. A large and growing application for grow chambers is hydro-organic produce, where consumers are able to obtain the benefits organic produce (pesticide free, GMO-free, fresh taste) without the serious drawbacks of produce contamination by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Grow chambers also circumvent the environmental consequences of water table contamination from the run-off generated by large scale field production facilities.
Organic produce that is not locally grown (ie. due to seasonal production) also suffers from short shelf life, rapid deterioration after purchase and often poor physical appearance. Specialty applications include the production of certified virus free rootstock for the grapevine industry and for the production of seedlings for reforestation and biomass energy applications. The sealed nature of the grow chambers make the system appropriate for the testing and commercial production of genetically modified crops (ie. plant based production of antibody markers, growth hormone, or insulin) where isolation from possible unintended interaction with the outside is desirable.
PROCESS/ PRODUCT OPERATION:
continuous planting and harvesting
crop expander beds
soil-less closed system
spectrum filtered lights
In contrast with conventional greenhouses and field operations, a grow chamber is not a batch system, but a continuous "just-in-time" system that is planted and harvested daily. A grow chamber facility can consist of anywhere from several to hundreds of individual grow chambers.
Each insulated grow chamber is 20' long x 10' wide x 10' high. The light reflecting interior of each chamber is ventilated with a controlled atmosphere high in supplemental CO2 used by the plants for photosynthesis under the high light intensities (continuous noonday sun) produced within the chambers. As they grow, the plants are moved and spaced apart daily via a proprietary Xpander Frame used in conjunction with a proprietary GroWBot that moves and tends to the plants.
This Xpander System allows 2 to 4 times the number of plants to be grown per unit area. This allows for daily harvesting and daily planting of new seedlings along with maximum utilization of lights, equipment, space, and energy. Optimal nutrient levels are applied via the proprietary Pulseponics system, which combines beneficial elements of both hydroponics and aeroponics. Lighting is provided via high efficiency GroW Lights that incorporate a proprietary electronic ballast (designed specifically to optimize the light spectrum output for growing) and a low cost, high efficiency water jacket system for cooling.
Pesticides and fungicides are not used in a Vortex GroWarium. The closed GroW Chambers within a closed GroWarium prevent most pathogens and pests form infiltrating. Any that do infiltrate the system are eliminated through use of a proprietary and innovative GroW Clean process. In conventional commercial scale hydroponic systems, water born diseases such as pythium and slime molds are estimated to reduce the potential growth of crops by at least 30%. The GroW Clean process prevents pathogens from establishing themselves in the system and allows the plants to achieve their full growth potential.
Vortex Research Inc. www.vortexresearch.com
Vortex Research Inc. is a research and development company and developer of agricultural technology. Development of the technology has been partially supported through the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program.
The company has applied for patent protection for various technical innovations of the Vortex system. GroWariums will initially be owned and operated by Vortex. Future expansion will include joint ventures and technology licensing, particularly outside of North America. Customers for the Vortex products include distributors of high quality produce, companies wishing to contract for the production of plant generated pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, and distributors of flowers and ornamental foliage among many others.
This report/document was originally published August, 2000 on behalf of Growmax. While OCETA has reviewed this product/process with the Vendor and conducted limited independent investigation, OCETA assumes no responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the information.