2010 Runner Up: Watergy Greenhouse
Watergy is a bionic concept, imitating the biosphere within an enclosure, using wind, rain and related energy dissipation. It allows 85% recycling of irrigation water, while accumulation of CO2 leads to higher rates of photosynthesis. Further applications are plant protection (no pesticides), processing of greywater, desalination and heat supply.
ENTRY APPLICATION: PDF
FEATURE VIDEO: DW-TV live
Dr. Martin Buchholz, Berlin
Critical Need Being Addressed
Watergy combines water efficiency with enhanced agricultural productivity and quality while being mainly driven by solar energy. Integrated in urban closed water- and matter cycles, it will allow a dramatic shift in resource efficiency for the supply of water, food and renewable material.
Description of Initiative
From 2003-2006, two prototypes of Watergy greenhouses were built in Spain and Germany. During four years, the system functions (water, energy) of the horticultural greenhouse in Spain have been approved successfully. (video at: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,2809751,00.html). The Berlin prototype is an experimental setup for Watergy concept with greenhouses attached to buildings. The system is used as a solar collector, producing heat while using greywater for irrigation and providing condensed water for the building. (www.watergy.de).
During 2006-2008, the EU supported project “Cycler Support” did work out scenarios for integrated urban systems based on greenhouses. Synergies to solid waste / wastewater treatment as well as to concentrated solar power devices (greenhouse as closed cooling tower) are presented in the report “Overcoming Drought” http://www.emwis.net/thematicdirs/news/2008/12/eu-project-cycler-supppor...).
Since 2008, the Watergy group works on the further improvement of the Berlin Prototype, using humid air from the greenhouse during winter that is absorbed by a liquid desiccant solution to shift the air temperature in order to use for building heat supply. The diluted solution is regenerated during summer by solar energy.
The Watergy Team is using a science based systems approach to creatively push the envelope on greenhouse design and performance by harnessing the physics of natural processes as well as temperature extremes typical of arid regions. Watergy's two new generation closed loop greenhouse prototypes work not only as high performance agricultural producers but as efficient recyclers and harvesters of fresh water, energy, and nutrients. They have made reducing costs and the integration of non- traditional water sources (i.e., waste water, brackish/salt water) a research priority. Their cost reduction strategy combines the use of lightweight structures and components with low-tech mechanics. The team has built an urban research lab in Berlin which integrates its greenhouse concept with a dwelling. Martin Bucholz, the team leader, is a leading edge innovator and an expert in the field. He was the chief editor for a comprehensive state of the art survey and policy and implementation guide. The guide, which was sponsored by the EU and published in 2008, is impressive. The video of one of the Watergy prototypes in Spain is particularly illuminating and so is the Watergy website. To date, Watergy’s R & D efforts have been funded through EU grants and most recently the National German Funding- Ministry of Economics.
People: About Martin Bucholz and the Watergy Greenhouse Partners
Dr. Martin Buchholz (Inventor of Watergy; Initiator/Coordinator of Watergy-, Cyler Support- and Thermo-Chemical Storage project
National German Funding- Ministry of Economics
Mr. (Prof.) Claus Steffan
Dr. Guillermo Zaragoza
Dr. Patrick Jochum
Gerrit van Straten
Cycler Support Project-
Mohammed El Mourid
Thermor-Chemical Storage Project
During journeys to the Mediterranean region, he recognized the energetic potential of strong day/night temperatures and high solar radiation, being almost completely unused. As being an assistant teacher for landscape architecture and urban design in late 1990, he worked with students on an overview of technologies for sustainable cities.
At this time he started thinking about greenhouse technologies, that were worked out in his doctoral work “Energy conversion, water treatment and processing of biomass in greenhouse-building-modules”. From 2003, he started the realisation of the first prototypes in close collaboration with his team partners.