The Appalachian State University (ASU) biomass energy project team and Appalachian Energy Center hosted an open house for a biomass heated greenhouse project called NEXUS on Oct. 21. It was part of the third annual National Bioenergy Day event, and the first-ever open house of the project. We were pleased to have more than 70 people attend including sponsors, ASU staff and students, farms and organizations from the local area as well as other areas. The guided site tours provided an opportunity to learn about on-farm biomass energy and its benefits. The event was a great success and fulfilled its role to introduce the biomass energy research to the community and promote interest in the project. The research team gathered valuable feedback from the extension and local farmers, which will influence future research. We look forward to participating in this annual event to engage with our community and share the progress of the bioenergy research.
ASU's biomass energy project, NEXUS, was initiated in 2011 and has developed an affordable heated greenhouse and biomass heating system at the Watauga County Landfill with grants awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency, NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, and ASU. It utilizes on-farm biomass resources and solar energy to create year-round growing conditions without dependence on fossil fuels. It contains a 20' by 30' greenhouse with an above ground 1500 gallon thermal storage tank and aquaculture pond. It is supported by small-scale pyrolysis, solar thermal, compost heating, and anaerobic digestion (AD). Eventually, multiple heat exchangers will collect heat from solar collectors, pyrolysis system, and biogas. The heat is delivered and stored at the thermal storage tank inside the greenhouse. An Ardurino module controls the flow rate of water from the tank to various heat exchangers based on temperature differentials. A closed loop heat exchanger circulates heated water from the tank to the aquaculture pond to maintain an optimal temperature for tilapia growth. The pond also acts as a thermal storage, and holds/distributes heat to the greenhouse. These systems also produce high quality soil amendments (e.g., compost, digester slurry, bio-char, and fish waste), that increase productivity.
The NEXUS team pursues improving the profitability of farming in the High Country and enriching the local community with year-round fresh local food through the application of biomass management, renewable energy, value-added byproducts, and growing season extension.
More pictures from the event on Facebook.
- NEXUS Brochure (PDF)