Greenhouse Solar Thermal System

Students in solar thermal technology (fall TEC 4628 and spring TEC 5628) have been involved in the design, construction, commissioning, and testing of a unique solar thermal heating system at the Sustainable Development Civic Garden located at the Living Learning Center on Campus.  The passive solar greenhouse is primarily used for starting seeds for the garden from late winter through early spring. A water heating system consisting of 45 evacuated tubes, a DC solar-direct pump, and a 200 gallon “thermal-battery” tank provides additional heat to this off-grid greenhouse. The custom built tank is lined with phase change materials designed to release heat at temperatures appropriate for growing plants.  In the summer, the heat generated by the solar collectors is sent through a heat exchanger in a food dehydrator to dry and preserve food grown in the gardens. System analysis and monitoring is on-going. This project was funding by the 2017 Innovation Scholar’s grant through a collaboration by Drs. Anne Fanatico (SD) and Jeremy Ferrell (STBE) to research technologies to extend year-round local food production.