Monday, May 25, 2009

Gordon Graff Skyfarm


"Gordon Graff's Skyfarm isn't intended as an out-there suggestion of what might be. He's convinced it would work, right now. In Graff's conception, Skyfarm is a self-sustaining system.

It almost has to be: With virtually no penetration of natural light, Skyfarm's demand for electric lighting comes in at an estimated 82 million kilowatt hours per year. The average household uses about 10,000 kwh annually.

Hooking Skyfarm into the grid would completely cancel out any of the energy-saving advantages gained by not having to truck its produce thousands of kilometres. And then there's all that water – 59 storeys of hydroponic plants, stacked half a dozen storeys deep.

But Graff thought of that. Skyfarm would be equipped with its own biogas plant, to produce methane from its own waste. When burned, methane produces less carbon dioxide than other hydrocarbon fuels. It would be used by Skyfarm to produce its own electricity.

When Skyfarm is unable to produce enough waste to power itself – Graff estimates that the farm's internal waste would generate enough methane to fulfill 50 per cent of its energy needs – he suggests a win-win partnership with the city. Waste that travels to civic composting facilities – with questionable renewability, by some accounts – could be diverted to Skyfarm's anaerobic digester to produce the methane it needs. Skyfarm could take on some other problems to its benefit, too: Sewage is a rich methane source.

And the water issue? Enter the Living Machine, a patented biological water-filtration system that would recover waste water from sewage and divert it to Skyfarm's hydroponic growing demands."- Murray Whyte

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