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Self-sustainable hydroponic vegetable and microalgae farming

Image credit: Taken from https://www.aptean.com/en-AU/insights/blog/benefits-of-hydroponics and edited.

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola May 18, 2022
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Combined solar-powered hydroponic farming of vegetables and microalgae (Spirulina).
Why?
  • Hydroponic farming requires the circulation of nutritious water, the same as microalgae farming. Combining the same water source for both reduces the "amount of water to product" ratio.
  • Microalgae require sun, while the sun can generate energy. Energy is needed for water circulation.
  • Plant fertilizers are the second biggest industry after the pharmaceutical. Algae can be used as fertilizers.
How would it work?
The microalgae's role in plant growth is a current subject of research . However, projects and articles discuss these two technologies as a combination to get the vegetable and microalgae products. Here I want to present an idea where microalgae would not only be used to enhance the growth of plants, but a way to save water, increase the efficiency of plant production, produce electricity and create new value by selling algae-specific products. Many things are prone to changes and heavy adjustments, but this is my idea:
To have a standard hydroponic vegetable farm. Put microalgae in water. Since both species need light to grow, LED lights (or a combination of sunlight during the day and LED lighting during the night) would be implemented. The water used to grow plants would be also the water where Spirulina would be grown. Research showed that Spirulina doesn't affect plant growth . However, some plant fertilizers could result in slow microalgae growth. For that reason, vegetable culture selection and feeding medium preparation should be done in order to optimize both the microalgae and vegetable growth. One part of the microalgae farm could be turned into a bioreactor for biofuel production to power the plant, or to a "algae panels/facades" for electricity production.
Additional information
If enough power would be generated, the surplus could be used to produce dry algae food, algae face masks, fertilizers, etc.

[1]https://water2return.eu/microalgae-could-be-beneficial-in-hydroponics/

[2]https://biodesign.eca.ed.ac.uk/key-technique-to-coupling-plant-hydroponic-system-and-algae-culture-in-famliy-plant-farm/

[3]https://krishijagran.com/agriculture-world/hydroponic-farming-microalgae-could-be-an-added-advantage-for-your-hydroponic-system/

[4]https://www.bdcnetwork.com/german-demonstration-building-features-algae-powered-facade

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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain2 months ago
In principle, the idea is awesome. However, to produce biofuel that has sufficient efficiency and to power up the motors for the proposed hydroponic system seems like a bit too much to ask for. For such a system, we would probably need a much larger bioreactor, given that most of the biofuels produced so far have at best around 60% efficiency on a large scale.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola2 months ago
Subash Chapagain Hmm, okay, that could be a problem. What if we created a system where algae products are being sold and the money used to power the plant and buy the fertilizers, while the hydroponic vegetables grow "cost-free"? Would that make it sustainable enough? From the size of the hydroponic farms, I think the pipeline would be big enough for adequate yields, don't you?
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