Vertical Farms Could Easily Sprout Up in Future Cities
CREDIT: Ari Helminen via Flickr
Growing food hydroponically inside high-rise buildings is yet another sci-fi dream undone by the practical energy and economic conditions of the real world. However, by using reprocessed waste for power, harvesting lost moisture and utilizing a specialized drum for growing the plants, graduate student Gordon Graff may have figured out how to make vertical farming work for real.
Graff, who presented his vertical farming system as part of his Master's thesis, wrote a vertical farm must be able to produce enough food to cover the cost of its day to day operations and, ultimately, the capital cost of the building's construction (or renovation).
His Skyfarm does that and more. Graff took into account all the economic ramifications of vertical farming as well. Development of the farm would cost around $110 million, but would hypothetically produce 25 million heads of lettuce per year into the local market. In addition, the use of wastewater and garbage for compost would help deal with the cost of water treatment and garbage collection.
According to a report from TreeHugger, Graff 's Skyfarm took each detail into account, ensuring that everything in the system serves a purpose and is used to the fullest extent. Nothing is wasted; even the little bit of nutrition-depleted waste water is run through "Living Machines", a self-contained biological wastewater treatment system designed to purify water using microorganisms, algae, plants, snails, and fish.
For now, the Skyfarm system is just available on paper, but Graff has shown vertical farming not only possible, but also cost effective. Who knows, we may see crop-filled skyscrapers in our cities sooner than we thought.
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