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Utah winter greenhouse?

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Mark Peterson View Drop Down
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    Posted: June 14 2013 at 7:47am
A big Aloha to everyone,

Thanks to Bob for the lead in to this topic:
Originally posted by BobC63 BobC63 wrote:

I would love to see what...Mark could achieve if he chose to incorporate some of these advances in modern technology and methodology into his regimen... 
I agree and would really appreciate your further input. You may have heard that I have embarked on a journey to build a unique Coral Farm. The facility will be a passive solar, dugout, greenhouse where coral flourish in direct sunlight.

The idea to make it a dugout/subsurface greenhouse has been on my mind since 2005. Anthony Calfo wrote a book about his coral greenhouse, saying that summer cooling was a major difficulty, even at the 40 degree latitude of Pittsburgh. which coincidentally is the same as SLC. It seemed to me a reasonable expectation, to take advantage of how well coral grow under the amazing power of sunlight while in a controlled aquarium environment.

A few months ago, after returning to Utah from living almost two years in the paradise of Hawaii, I began to feel prompted that now was the time to go forward with it. The caveat was how to moderate the heating and cooling problems of the traditional above ground four transparent sided greenhouse. I had the idea in December 2005 to go below ground (see drawings below). Searches of the www found no answers in 2005/6. This time the answers were there. Heating and cooling can come from ancient technologies re-discovered, developed and now found on the web, for example: Walipini 

Our coral farm greenhouse will be open to all. Everyone will be invited to come, sit and talk reef. It will be a warm tropical paradise with tropical plants, flowers and vines, like my beloved Hawaii, where we can gather and relax to enjoy tropical marine organisms and lush vegetation flourishing all around us.

As you read this and the posts that follow, ideas will come to you. Please share them here. All ideas are valid. This will be our brainstorming thread, a community endeavor of ideas. Just one simple rule. No criticism of others or your own ideas. Let the ideas flow. All are valid because they lead to other ideas.

Mahalo




Edited by Mark Peterson - December 02 2013 at 10:44pm
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Upon realization that the sun is lower in the sky during winter, this drawing followed.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 14 2013 at 8:10am
Originally posted by Snowsrfr Snowsrfr wrote:

Originally posted by fishnfresh fishnfresh wrote:

I always wondered about the rock down by the lake. Since there is copper mine down there and I had a tank when I first got into the hobby and got some from someone and had nothing but problems then redone the tank replaced the rock,sand, and water and everything was fine. So would be interesting to see what tests would show.
Hey man, I did my senior thesis for my groundwater/geology bachelors on LBTR composition and contamination in the west desert. Would never make it public here cuz I'm sure it would cause mad drama, and being called a mad scientist or witch doctor for my findings (wish I were actually joking about that part). If interested though I'll make the study analysis/results available. It's extremely in depth so I'd have to get it to you on a thumb drive or something.
Please share a synopsis of your findings right here with specifics on where and what kind of samples you collected.

This is appropriate and very important because another idea for this Walipini style coral greenhouse is to take LBTR and grow it into inexpensive LR. The evaluations of Utah Oolitic and Utah Rock from around 2000 were fairly positive, showing no impurities that could significantly effect aquarium husbandry. I'm anxious to see Snowsrfr's findings and then investigate if the concern can be alleviated.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ghetto Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 14 2013 at 8:27am
A few thoughts (way out of my area of expertise - if I have one - so take them for what they are worth).

You're hoping that being underground will keep things cool, like how my basement is cool all year.  The ground is always cool in my basement - I would think you would want to put these tanks directly on the ground instead of on stands.  You might even use big tubs and bury them...

Being buried, the greenhouse would stay cooler than an above ground one, but I don't know if it would be cool enough.  To help with additional cooling, you could dig a trench and run water through the trench to cool it.  You probably wouldn't want tank water because you wouldn't want to risk a leak, but you could do a closed loop geothermal chiller.  I remember reading about a successful one on reefcentral 5+ years ago.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Melissa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 14 2013 at 8:32am
There is a free/beta software from Autodesk called Vasari that will let you do some sun path studies if you are interested.

I can create a quick revit model to import if you have some rough dimensions in mind.  (I believe you can import sketchup as well, but only a file you get from the paid version)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 16 2013 at 6:58am
Those are great ideas.

I took the old drawings above and added in those suggestions and other technologies found so far to come up with the modified drawing below. (I just found some information about how the earth's store of heat has a 6 month lag time. Another design change to come. Smile)
Mahalo for your ideas Hug


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aquarium Creations Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2013 at 9:12am
You can also look into a Solar tube like this one i am looking at, All the benefits of natural light without the heat  



Edited by Aquarium Creations - June 17 2013 at 9:13am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote icenine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2013 at 10:55am
Here is a tank thread I followed using the solar tubes. He would up taking that build down and started up another using the same tubes.

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1457056&page=29
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pete Moss Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 25 2013 at 9:41am
Like Bob, I'd like to see what you could pull off with some modern technology, however using the sun and a dugout isn't exactly making any technological advances. Mother Earth has been growing corals like that for ages! She was doing it before it was cool.

Cool

A bigger problem than keeping it cool in the summer, is keeping it warm in the winter. A well designed buried greenhouse will work fine when the sun is out, but when there are weeks of over-cast days and snow is piling up on the exterior glass/plastic you're going to have trouble growing your mini Hawai'i. As tempting as the idea is, Utah's climate isn't conducive to reef life.

Maybe if you lived farther south..... It'd be easier to pull off in St. George, or other locations where the weather is a little more consistent.

You're only viable option ultimately would be to build an insulated greenhouse, with a humidifier, and temperature-sensitive vents ( high quality temp-sensitive vent hinges would go a long way in the summer ) Using solar tubes through the roof of the greenhouse would be your best option, as a completely open roof would without a doubt cause too much heat buildup.

Even then you would want an emergency cooling/heating system, temp gauges, and an alarm system that warns you if conditions become intolerable. Since you plan on planting a tropical rainforest in your back yard, it's going to take more than a chiller and a heater to pull this off. The entire potato cellar needs to be brought to acceptable temperatures. Your best option would be to use the existing insulated building that you own with a temperature control system; your house. Which is why everyone is bringing up the solar tubes.

While it is a fun idea to think about, this is Utah, not Hawai'i. The climate is so drastically different, that burying your greenhouse in the ground a bit isn't going counter the lack of consistency in Utah's weather.

Just my thoughts.


Edited by Pete Moss - June 25 2013 at 9:52am
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This is an interesting thread and I've been thinking myself about making a greenhouse style coral farm/fish room. The winter chill isn't as big a problem as it might seem. I have a north facing home with wide picture windows facing the south. In the winter when the sun shines my living room temp easily climbs above 80 unless we cover the windows.

Utah has an average of 300 sunny days per year leaving only 65 days scattered throughout the year of cloudy or stormy days. Granted you would need some way of heating the greenhouse both at night and on cloud covered days but you could take advantage of the warmth of the sun using solar water heating and large storage tanks to store heat and distribute it when the need arises.

I'm not saying this would be an easy task or even an inexpensive task but I think it could be done with the right mix of Solar and geothermal energy for heat and cooling and a climate controlled ventilation system.

I also thought of building something similar against the south side of our home to take advantage of the Sun as well as heating the space with the furnace of the home.

Another possibility would be to use a furnace similar to my garage heater. As long as there was enough insulation temps could be kept warm enough to manage.

My ideas didn't include tropical plants just providing a space where fish and coral could survive which makes it much easier as the whole space doesn't have to be heated or cooled as water temperature is the only thing that has to be kept even. While it will definitely add complexity to support tropical plants I still think it can be done.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 27 2013 at 9:05am
Thanks Eric. That makes the seventh coral farm to contact. The initial list is here: http://utahreefs.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=64587  Are there more?

Mahalo for all your comments. Thumbs Up

The concerns about heating and cooling are paramount. Keeping the water temperature at 70-80 year round via passive means is the goal and the challenge. Here is the latest drawing. Keep in mind that this is only a cross section showing the critical parts. This pilot facility will be about 30-40 feet long east to west and "the cave" will extend the full length of the structure with 3-4 cold air vents and two solar chimneys.



The earth provides a fairly constant temperature year round. To utilize the effect seems to be relatively straight forward. See AGS - Annualized Geo-Solar. The drawing above has thick tan colored lines indicating a cold water barrier and earth insulation. The existing driveway has already been providing this "umbrella" of sorts, to the ground beneath it.

Two extremes, summer heat and winter cold, are of major concern. Of course the outside temperature in Utah during Spring and Fall can be very pleasant, but infrared radiation (heat) from the sun is magnified inside a greenhouse (even during winter and on cloudy days). You can see in the image, how "the cave" and solar chimneys work as a system to draw hot air out and cool air in. This, coupled with AGS heating should keep it nice from March to October, but what about November to February?

Winter cold, especially during consecutive stormy winter days/nights is still a concern. What is the availability of stored heat during these times? The AGS principle seems to provide a base temperature of somewhere between 60-70, but how can we keep the tank water at 70-80 degrees without typical heaters? What about larger amounts of water storage or even commercially manufactured Phase Change Materials (PCM)? Also, what benefit might be gained from a thermal insulation screen/blanket, pulled across the inside of the entire greenhouse at night?

What are your ideas?

BTW, the lavender colored transparent material in the drawing could be white polycarbonate, with 45% light transmission properties while the winter solstice facing material is clear polycarbonate providing 90% solar transmission.

Aloha,
Mark Hug


Edited by Mark Peterson - June 27 2013 at 9:14am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Melissa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 27 2013 at 9:23am
You should look into a trombe wall for heat storage and night heating
(The pictured Design Build Bluff rammed-earth wall was built by the girl I sit next to at work)

Even more applicable to what you are looking to do is this version:
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 27 2013 at 9:36am
Yeah, excellent. Thumbs Up

The wall on the north side is meant to be a Trombe wall.

Did you know that PCM can hold 40x more heat than water?


Edited by Mark Peterson - June 27 2013 at 9:37am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 03 2013 at 11:53am
Aloha everyone,

I dug a test hole down to 6.5 feet and everything is looking good for this subsurface greenhouse coral farm. Big smile

Input from my partners suggested modifications to ensure sufficient light year round and cooling during the summer. Also found a source of free used hot tubs. Here is the latest drawing:


Mahalo for your input.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Corey Price Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 03 2013 at 12:28pm
Mark,

So when does the planning for the big dig start?    

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 03 2013 at 6:11pm
Aloha Corey,

We hope to start digging soon and have it running by winter.
Next week Donna and I are visiting three above ground greenhouse coral farms. Did you see this new thread? http://utahreefs.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=66374
We just need to get someone like you to draw up more professional and detailed plans so we can figure out the materials list and devise a good way to put the pieces together.
Then we will need to find someone with a backhoe that is willing to partner with us and dig out about 150 cubic yards of earth.
It's going to be a cut and cover engineering project.
Also, we plan to use timbers to hold back the clay composition ground rather than an expensive cement foundation and walls.

Mahalo for your interest and your help,
Mark Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Molli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2013 at 10:43am
What is your plan to contain the salt water to prevent it from contaminating the soil?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2013 at 3:45pm
"soil contamination" Shocked
This is a very "green" greenhouse. It has a very small "carbon footprint" because the only electricity used will be to move water. Lighting, heating and cooling are to be functions of direct and passive solar energy.

We have long followed the practice of doing 10% water changes every 2-3 months, sending the salt water into the most convenient place, the sewer. Can you see any reason to change that procedure here?

I invite you to come visit to see the way we already economize on man-made energy use. Passive and direct solar energy provide ample benefit to our current reef systems.

Aloha,
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Edited by Mark Peterson - September 04 2013 at 3:46pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ch3tt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2013 at 4:27pm
Do you have a location lined up yet? 
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