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GroUp Creates Functional Aquaponics System with Vertical Farming

Today, consistent population growth and ongoing urbanization pose sustainability needs for increasingly congested metropolitan areas across America. Food supply, above all, is a major concern for these communities. Providing a food source in urban areas with minimal available space while also using sustainable practices is harder still. In efforts to meet this need, GroUp has designed a novel vertical aquaponics system which utilizes heat recapture from its own LED light sources and consumes CO2 produced from fermentation processes.

Their model system is capable of providing 2,000 sq. ft. of cultivation space, farming over 1,000 tilapia fish annually and consuming 2/3 of the CO2 generated by a local brewery in one year–more than 30,000 kg of CO2–all in an entirely contained system occupying 1,000 sq. ft. of floor space. While current aquaponics systems burn fossil fuels to generate CO2, this technology takes advantage of anaerobic respiration, such as that occurring in the brewing of beers or ciders. During fermentation, CO2 is produced at a 1:1 ratio with ethanol, requiring breweries to meet severe costs for the emission, storage, or treatment of the environmentally hazardous byproduct onsite. In a novel design and venture, the GroUp Vertical Aquaponics System would source CO2 on-site directly from the brewery’s CO2 store.

In addition to designing this commercial-scale model, Andrew Horowitz, Joe Laviano, Brittany Foley, and Katy Wardzala designed and built a small-scale prototype, currently housed in a team member’s bedroom.

Related Departments:Chemical Engineering