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Desert greenhouses offer growth opportunities (AUGUST 17, 2020

Titre : Desert greenhouses offer growth opportunities

Emerging technologies can be harnessed to use the strengths of hot, humid coastal deserts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to grow food and other crops. (AUGUST 17, 2020 )

KAUST researchers are calling for a new generation of vast greenhouse complexes, supported by novel solar panels, air-cooling technologies, and advances in salt-tolerant agriculture. Their concept could kickstart a sustainable agriculture revolution in coastal desert regions across the world.

Coastal locations in the MENA region have ample access to seawater and year-round intense sunlight. CEA makes it possible to use seawater to use grow salt-tolerant crops, such as newly identified varieties of tomatoes and green vegetables. Mixed irrigation means that CEA would have a lower impact on municipal supplies. To source extra freshwater, the researchers plan to harvest from humid air.

The air released by the system is drier and cooler and can be circulated in the greenhouses, while the captured freshwater is recovered. The buildup of excessive heat inside greenhouses is a major concern in the MENA region. One solution comes from KAUST start-up iyris : which uses semitransparent solar panels as windows. Such panels allow visible light through for plant growth, while converting infrared energy (heat) into electricity.

The researchers also hope to combine plant and algae growth to generate not just food, but also biomass feedstocks for aquaculture, animal feed, chemical industry products and bioplastics. Algae can be grown in photobioreactors inside CEA, and this co-cultivation would increase the system’s value output.

Source  : King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

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Page publiée le 25 juin 2021