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An Austrian SME has developed a kit to transform any fridge into an affordable climate chamber to grow all desired vegetables and herbs in urban homes. Environmental parameters relevant for optimal, fast and reliable plant growth are controlled and can be changed via an app automatically without any maintenance. For installation of the patented system solely one additional hole has to made into the fridge. Partners are sought for manufacturing, commercial, research and license agreements.
An Austrian start-up developed the worldwide first fully automated system to modify a fridge into a climate chamber to grow all desired herbs and vegetables fast, reliable and without restrictions.
1. STATE OF THE ART
Growing herbs and plants in urban regions is often hardly possible due to space limitations and limited time or expertise for cultivation of plants. Automatically controlled, all-year indoor growing in climate chambers comparable to the size of a fridge is an alternative. Up to now very limited number of such kind of kitchenware is available on the market worldwide and those which exist do have essential disadvantages:
- No constant growing conditions and limited control range (no controlled CO2 concentrations, no controlled humidity, no cooling in summer)
- Noisy due to active aeration (ventilation)
- High complexity & limited automation (water and wastewater connections, tubes, tanks, pumps or similar causing hygienic and maintenance issues)
- High costs (~3000 € / grow box)
- Fixed sizes
The Austrian company developed a controller-based system that enables everybody to make a climate chamber out of any fridge without having the disadvantages described above. Solely one additional hole need to be made into the fridge to provide electricity inside and to enable CO2 supply in the chamber. The controller, a LED light source and a ventilator are put into the fridge. A CO2 bottle (comparable aquarium CO2 systems) is placed outside. The controller is measuring and controlling parameters as light intensity, spectra and duration, temperature, humidity and CO2 concentration automatically to provide perfect conditions without having any effort. For advanced users the controller is also capable to control further devices like for example a camera.
Once the system is set-up the user does only have to plant the seeds, water the plants once and wait till the plants are ready for harvesting. Automatic watering is done while humidity is condensed in the fridge and re-fed into the substrate of the plant. CO2 that is consumed by plants is added artificially. Therefore, CO2 bottles need to be plugged and changed comparable to soda-stream bottles every few months. All needed goods as DIY-kit, plant trays and CO2 bottles can be provided by the Austrian company or partners.
The system has an IoT connection. Via app and web the system parameters can be defined (day / night, etc.) and existing climate programs can be loaded. Measured data are stored and can be analysed anytime by an included analytic tool.
3. APPLICATION AREAS
- Private households
- Top-quality restaurants
- Research institutes which do need a reasonable priced alternative to expensive climate chambers.
4. PARTNER SOUGHT
- Manufacturers of cooling devices or fridges to deliver devices (manufacturing agreement) or to (co-)develop new products (commercial agreement, license agreement or research agreement).
- Manufacturers of LED lights to integrate the controller in LED lights (manufacturing agreement).
- Companies for distribution of the existing "Do it yourself" kit (commercial agreement).
1) Fully automated:
- Worldwide first climate chamber for domestic use with full 24/7 controllability of climate parameters (applicable for research)
- Plug and Play system
- Automated watering without any tank or pump just by simple physics
- Pre-defined climate programs available for beginners
- Climate parameters can be defined and data are stored for reports and analytics via an app (for experts)
- First affordable solution for domestic use with costs of about 200€ for the "Do it yourself kit" and about ~1000€ for a full system depending on the fridge used. Comparable solution with major disadvantages (described before) do cost about 3000€.
3) By the design of a closed system numerous advantages have been reached to comparable kitchenware:
- Maintenance measures reduced to an absolute minimum
- CO2 and humidity control are possible
- Quiet and discrete
- Independent regarding conditions of installation space
- Fully automated system -> no need to have farming or technological know-how
- Solely one electrical outlet is needed -> no need for water connections, tubes, tanks and pumps
- Only smooth surfaces in the inside of the box -> improved hygiene
- CO2 fertilization is enabled
- No ambient air is needed to flow through -> Broad control range of environmental conditions & no exchange of intensive odours
- Flexible size of the kitchenware
4) Common ways to get fresh vegetables and herbs are to buy them from the local retailer or to grow them in one's own garden or terrace. This kitchenware provides essential advantages:
- Perfect growing conditions 24/7 all season
- No application of pesticides, fungicides or herbicides, no packaging
- Climate programs -> A nearly endless variety of vegetables and herbs can be grown
- Fresh herbs and plants, not frozen or transported
- Reduced CO2 emissions (no transport)
- Prototype & App available
- Numerous test-users (including a research institute at the University of Applied Life Sciences, Vienna) are already using the controller system.
1 granted in DE: Device / Process
1 submitted: Energy Efficiency
Type of partner sought:
1. Manufacturers of cooling devices or fridges (Wholesalers and retailers for kitchen appliances, Companies responsible for furnish modern and new flats - focused on kitchen, Companies with a focus on innovative kitchen and lifestyle products, and such like)
2. LED light manufacturer to add the controller on the LED panel to dim it and to place fans etc. on it. Then only the LED panel has to be placed in the fridge (manufacturing agreement).
3. Companies with existing networks in the field of cooling solutions or indoor gardens (kitchen appliance retailers, kitchen designers / studios, kitchen manufacturer, high-end interior designer, and such like)
Role of partner sought:
1. Manufacturer of cooling devices or fridges who delivers fridges or slightly modified fridges or LED lights (manufacturing agreement) or who is interested in the creation of a new product based on the developed process (Co-creation: Commercial agreements with technical assistance, Autonomous creation: License agreement). In case that an intensive collaboration is needed a research agreement is sought. For example to apply the system for controlling vertical farming containers.
2. Companies with existing networks in the field of kitchenware for distribution of the developed "Do it yourself" kit or a new product based on the developed process (commercial agreement with technical assistance).
Possible technical contributions of the Austrian company:
1. The Austrian company will provide the necessary technical know-how to enable partners to integrate the patented technology in its products.
2. The Austrian company will provide the technology and the know-how to support a kitchen appliance manufacturer to bring up a new tailor-made innovative solution for specific needs.