Project ID: AEE-2020-15
Students: Santeri Qvintus, Labinot Zhegrova, Santeri Karvinen, Sami-Petteri Pukkila, Helena Kaisanlahti
Project manager: Santeri Qvintus
Instructor: Paulo Pinho
Other advisors: -
Starting date: 16.1.2020
Completion date: 7.6.2020
There is a global need to grow crops more efficiently, closer to consumers. This is expected to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural methods and products on the environment.
A method to test out different environmental conditions which provide optimal growing conditions for the plant are required to further research the methods in which crops are grown in greenhouses. Research on more efficient setups can be researched with this product.
The project’s primary objective was to design and construct a chamber to grow horticultural crops with artificial control over environmental conditions like lighting, temperature, and humidity (i.e. user-defined environmental parameters). In addition, some of the structural features of the chamber can also be partially reconfigured in order to better fulfill the requirements of the user and experiment. The intended user groups of this product are educators and institutional researchers.
At the end of the project we had acquired some of the materials and parts, some bought and some from the lighting unit, including the LEDs and metal beams for the structure.
The chamber has been modeled in AutoCAD and DIALux. The CAD-model is intended for the construction of the whole system which includes all the parts. Structural analysis was also performed with that model. The DIALux model shows the placement of the LEDs and what is the ratio of used red and blue LEDs. The lighting can be simulated in DIALux in terms of light intensity and uniformity.
Image: Simplified 3D-model of the growth chamber
The simplified working principle of the growth chamber can be abbreviated as an IPO (input-process-output) cycle. The system takes user-defined parameters to customize operational protocol and cultivate accordingly. As for resource input necessary for organic growth, we will need only freshwater supply as the ultra-violet rays and nutrients are provided by enclosed subsystems.
To further the autonomy of the growth chamber, the climate control was integrated into the system design. Real-time data management could provide users with an overview of the environmental condition during automated procedures.
Image: Screenshot from the designed user interface.
Left image: 3D-virtual model of the lighting environment. Right image: PPFD-isoline distribution.
The estimated workload for each student was 200 hours. This would be around 12 hours a week for 18 weeks and combined hours would be around 1 100 hours. The workflow was put into phases and work packages which made it easier to set weekly goals. A responsible person for each work package was set to make sure that the task would be done, however the responsible person would not need to do the task by themselves.
Risk analysis was made and things like budget tracking and schedule changes were made to help keep things in line.
Project meetings were held every week, with additional undocumented meetings help by the project group whenever needed. The meetings were held at Aalto University in Otaniemi campus until the corona-virus pandemic. After that, the meetings were held online. The instructor attended most of the meetings and helped to guide the group to work the project in an orderly manner. The project manager prepared an agenda for each of the meetings and attended the meetings as the chairman. The secretary role was assigned by the chairman at the start of each meeting so that every group member (other than the project manager) would take turns as the secretary. Secretary’s task was to document the meetings into minutes and after the meetings, send the documents to each group member, the instructor and upload it to the projects google drive folder. The project meetings were important in coordinating the project group to work on tasks and to see what was done.