Academic Venture Fund - 2014

Greening Greenhouses with Yard Waste

Lettuce in greenhouse

New York's long winters mean expensive heating bills for commercial greenhouses, limiting their profitability. Partnering with a local aquaponic greenhouse that integrates fish and vegetable farming, researchers will test a commercial-scale pyrolysis energy system powered by yard waste. Pyrolysis burns organic matter in oxygen-limited conditions, producing heat and also biochar, agricultural charcoal that can help mitigate climate change. The system will provide year-round heat without fossil fuels, while the biochar enriches soil and may also filter fishpond water. For local growers, it's a step toward a smaller carbon footprint and a better bottom line.

Investigators: Neil Mattson, Johannes Lehmann, A. Edward Staehr, Janice Thies, Michael Ben Timmons