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Incorporating CO2 supply into life cycle assessments

Operating a greenhouse is not without challenges. There are significant costs, specialized equipment needs, and energy consumption requirements. Greenhouses also need access to a steady supply of carbon dioxide to enrich crops and expedite growth.

Many farms source CO2 from the fossil fuel industry - but according to the team of Skytree, these “point source capture” processes can be harmful. "By this method, CO2 is captured from a large emission source, such as an oil refinery, power plant, or any facility that burns fossil fuels. The captured emissions are separated from exhaust gasses, bottled in heavy cylinders, and transported by gas-guzzling trucks to the consumer. The entire process increases emissions, and quite dramatically so. Recent calculations reveal that for every 1 kg of CO2 generated via point source capture methods, due to the energy intensity and transport of CO2 up to 1.5 kg of emissions are released back into the air after use", the team with Skytree says. "For greenhouses eager to have a positive overall impact, sourcing CO2 from the fossil fuel industry not only can add to the climate change problem but can also diminish the shine of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)."

What is a Life Cycle Assessment and why is it important?
Commercial farms conduct LCAs to analyze performance, compare environmental impact to traditional and conventional farming, and validate the ability to produce food in a more sustainable and eco-friendly manner. An LCA can help identify hotspots in the production, use and disposal of a product and where to focus on improving its footprint. These analyses consider a wide range of factors including raw materials used, transportation needs, waste management and disposal, and energy requirements, to name a few. LCAs are important for securing grants and other forms of funding. They can also help offset some of the skepticism the industry has drawn regarding the true positive environmental impacts of the practice.

With a DAC solution, any vertical farm can generate its own supply of CO2 onsite. At Skytree, we make it simple for any CEA business to successfully execute this transition.

Once installed, Skytree’s modular Cumulus unit captures CO2 from the ambient air, filters it, and stores it in pressurized buffer tanks where it can be accessed and deployed by any business in need of CO2 as part of their ongoing operations. With just one Cumulus DAC unit, indoor farmers and greenhouse growers can access an uninterrupted supply of up to 10 kg of clean and sustainable CO2 in 24 hours. Units can be stacked together to accommodate businesses with greater CO2 needs.

Skytree Cumulus Life Cycle Assessment
Skytree also provides an LCA for the use of the Skytree Cumulus units, considering all factors in its operation including raw materials, components of the unit, distribution, assembly, electrical requirements, and ultimately disposal. As a result, CEA businesses can also have a more accurate accounting of their overall carbon footprint.

"For greenhouses, moving away from the fossil fuel industry has never been easier. With DAC, the challenges of procuring CO2 from outside vendors, waiting on shipments, and navigating supply chain issues become frustrations of the past. As energy requirements for DAC units are optimized, the return on investment both financially and reputationally will only continue to grow", they conclude.

Skytree is hosting a webinar about 'Transforming CO2 supply in CEA using the power of DDAC' on November 15th. Click here to register.

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