“In short, we capture CO2 from the air outside and then release it inside the greenhouse. As our system includes the greenhouse to be a closed system, all the CO2 inside will increase plant growth. This new technology does not give any emissions to its surroundings while in use and the solution is 100% climate-neutral”, Jarle Skjæveland with GreenCap Solutions explains. The company recently launched their product, and they are working on several projects in Norway and abroad.
“Our ultimate goal is to make greenhouses independent of fossil fuels while improving their crop yield”, says Jarle. This ambitious goal is the main motivation behind their unique, yet straightforward new product: an environmental climate system that provides plants inside of the greenhouse with outside CO2. On top of that, it allows for the reuse of condensed water, which further reduces costs for growers.
GreenCap Solution’s technical team combines decades of energy in the oil and gas industry, which is now taken to the greenhouse industry. For the past four years, they have been working on the carbon-capturing technique. Last year, they started working with the first greenhouse company to apply the technique: Lauvsnes Gartneri, a tomato greenhouse in Finnøy, Norway. The second project they started this year is with a Norwegian cucumber grower.
Zeolites: a tried method
For the capturing of the CO2 molecules, the company uses zeolites, a porous mineral that can adsorb large quantities of gas. Zeolites occur naturally but are also produced industrially. “Using zeolites as carbon adsorbent is nothing new. It was already used in the 1960s for industrial applications. Our invention is effectively using the energy and storing the CO2 for greenhouse application, in combination with climate control within the greenhouse,” Jarle explains.
Inside the greenhouse, the CO2 is transported by a constant air flow. “With the greenhouse closed on a sunny day, the temperature might get too high. For that reason, we have a circulation system that shifts the air every 10 minutes. Air tubes underneath the plants produce a constant low-speed airflow. This way, the temperature inside can be a comfortable 24 C even in a hot climate,” Jarle adds.
Vertical farming in Saudi Arabia
This technique comes in handy as the company recently started a new project in Saudi Arabia. This time not with a greenhouse but with a vertical farm that grows eight layers of lettuce. “When we visited Saudi Arabia some months ago, we noticed that some people were skeptical as to our technology would work in a hot climate too. With this new project, we are proving that our technique works, not only for different crops in different growing systems but also in different climates. And the additional benefit is that there we can make better use of solar power as well, taking advantage of the natural resources available.”
In many European countries, growers generally have a combined heat power (CHP) that already provides additional CO2 to growers. But according to Jarle, the systems can be combined easily. “Our technique is twofold: either we replace the current CO2 source or we add it to the closed growth environment. Both work fine together, but with our system, growers can stop using fossil fuels completely while still giving that beneficial CO2 to their plants. Besides, many countries do not need the extra heat provided by the CHP, at least not year-round. In that case, working with a CHP is not cost-effective.”
Already within the horticultural industry, GreenCap’s environmental climate control system can have many different applications. But the company is already investigating other possible usages of their carbon adsorbent technique. “CO2 is used in other industries too, so we are investigating other expansion already, such as companies absorbing their CO2 emission. However, horticulture is such a vast and rapidly growing industry. Imagine this huge industry, that is so essential for the food production of the entire world, being totally emission-free. That is what we’re working for.”
A promotional video of GreenCap Solution's system can be watched here.
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