The overall purpose of this IPRO project is to explore innovative solutions to automating UFarmIIT based on a sustainability strategy for water, energy and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and tapping the power of renewable energy technology and remote monitoring and control via embedded sensor networks and communication.
The Urban Agriculture Environment Today. Urban food systems comprise several common forms for more localized food production near population centers, including: (1) traditional small plots of land with or without physical coverage (i.e., high tunnels or hoop houses), (2) greenhouses, (3) rooftop gardens and greenhouses, and (4) high-density indoor agriculture using hydroponics or aquaponics systems. Urban food systems continue to develop along two major pathways:
Given the above context, this IPRO project has three overall objectives that will use UFarmIIT as a testbed as much as possible:
IPRO Team Approach. The Fall 2016 IPRO team will organize as three sub-teams that focus on the three objectives identified above and described below in greater detail, namely: Analysis of Energy, Water, and GHG Footprints of Local Urban Food Systems; Optimization of Water Needs; and Integration of Solar Energy Systems. The three sub-teams will meet weekly to provide updates, solicit input and support to address problems encountered, brainstorm new ideas and how they might be addressed, and agree on next steps. During the last two weeks of the semester, the three sub-teams will collaborate more intensively to synthesize their findings and recommendations, document their work for a follow-on IPRO team, and prepare an integrated report and presentation.
Analysis of Energy, Water and GHG Footprints of Local Urban Food Systems. The IPRO team will use the on-campus and off-site existing urban food production facilities to better understand the energy, water, and GHG footprints of each system, applying quantitative methods used in assessments of other engineered commercial and industrial systems. The IPRO team will adapt standardized methodologies to evaluate these measurable outputs in urban agriculture facilities and establish methods for evaluating and comparing production capacities, food safety, energy use, waste, and the overall costs of doing business of both new and existing facilities. The proposed analysis will include:
Optimization of Water Needs. Urban farms have a tremendous reliance on water for many different purposes that include irrigation, equipment cleaning, crop preparation, and crop processing. The IPRO team will have an impact on reducing water consumption by designing and installing an array of moisture sensors to monitor humidity of the soil for each crop from a remote station in the microgrid control room at our Wanger Institute for Sustainability and Energy Research (WISER) in the IIT Tower.
Integration of Solar Energy Systems. The IPRO team will complete installation of a solar energy system for UFarmIIT that incorporates battery storage and DC pumps for water irrigation. This will have two benefits:
Student representing the following disciplines are especially critical to this IPRO project and encouraged to register: Architectural Engineering, Architecture, Business, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.