NEXUS: Integrated Sustainable Energy for Enhancing Farm Productivity
Biomass energy generated from livestock manure, other agricultural by-products, and food waste can be an affordable greenhouse-heating energy source for those seeking
lower energy costs. Appalachian State University, NC has built a 20 foot by 30 foot greenhouse, called the “Nexus” to reinvent the heated greenhouse by using on-farm
biomass resources and solar energy to create year round growing conditions inside a conventional hoop house without dependence on fossil-fuels. Nexus includes an above
ground 1500-gallon water storage tank and an aquaculture pond. It is supported by a small-scale pyrolysis system, an anaerobic digestion system, solar thermal, and compost
heating. The main purpose of this research is to build and test various inexpensive and efficient biomass heat storage and delivery systems for a greenhouse in order to research and demonstrate
how to improve local crop productivity for farmers in Appalachia. The low-cost heating systems will help resource-limited farmers to extend their growing season: 1) increasing the income of local farmers;
2) enhancing the surrounding community’s access to fresh local produce; 3) conserving fossil-fuel; and 4) reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with greenhouse heating and transportation of non-local produce.