Project Concept: Food

Aquaponics diagram illustrating the movement of water from the flood tank through the grow beds to the fish tank and back again.

The NexusHaus has been designed to work towards a key goal of affordability while demonstrating the potential of combining energy and water, providing a platform for a progressive method of food production. The UT and TUM Solar Decathlon 2015 House will use aquaponics as its solution for growing food. Our aquaponics system harnesses the rain water collection and solar energy collected from photovoltaics—making it a completely integrated, self-sustaining system.

Aquaponics systems create a dynamic, natural ecosystem that produce fish and organically grown vegetables. It is comprised of three components including a flood tank, grow bed, and fish tank. Water in the flood tank is mixed with waste from the fish tank and is emptied as nutrient-rich water into the grow beds to feed the plants, the growing medium and plants filter the water, which returns to the fish tank as aerated, clean water. This process is illustrated in the diagram.

This system has a smaller impact on the environment than conventional farming methods as it uses less water and up to 90% less energy while maintaining production with complete absence of chemicals. Both forms of energy in the NexusHaus are harnessed from the natural environment, making an even smaller impact on the environment. The only input necessary in these systems is electricity for the water pump, fish food, seeds, and potting media.

Aside from the obvious benefits behind its minimal impact on the environment, the aquaponics systems also provide an environment in which vegetables grow significantly faster than those grown in conventional farming. The crops we will be growing in our systems are conducive to the Texas heat and include arugula, spinach, basil, rosemary, cilantro, dill, thyme, oregano, chives, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalepeños, snap beans, and pinto beans. These vegetables, along with the fish used in our system, will provide NexusHaus users with a reliable source of food and cut down on cost and trips to the grocery store.

Feb 24, 2015 by Claire Haupt in NexusNews

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