August 19, 2008, Updated September 13, 2012

“We collect the heat dissipating from the greenhouse,” Uri Drori of Trio Energy and Hila Weiss, manager of Aravot International.

Americans love vine-ripened hothouse tomatoes, pest-free lettuce and cucumbers, and a myriad of vegetables grown commercially in greenhouses. Growing produce in a greenhouse can be a great way to reduce the need for pesticides, and can make it possible to extend the growing season for local produce.

Moreover, greenhouses can help ensure that people in developing nations, where seasonal crops are hard to come by, can eat fresh and healthy food all year long.

When the sun is shining, greenhouses collect thermal energy from the sun, trap it inside (the greenhouse effect) and keep the plants warm and happy. But on colder cloudy days and at night, energy is required to keep the greenhouse warm, and that’s when it starts to become expensive both in terms of costs and the environment.

An Israeli company, Trio Energy Systems, has developed a solution that minimizes energy consumption in the greenhouse, keeping both our vegetables and planet happy.

The company expects it to become an important solution in America, where fuel costs are rising, and also in less developed countries, where resources are rare. The solution also reduces harmful carbon dioxide emissions.

“We are collecting the heat dissipating from the greenhouse. It goes back in a heat pump, like air conditioning,” Hila Weiss, the manager of Aravot International, who works with Uri Drori, from Trio Energy, tells ISRAEL21c.

Any crop, any greenhouse, anywhere

One of the greatest costs to greenhouse owners and operators is the price of fuel. Costs are “out of control,” experts now say. Trio Energy boasts that the energy savings it offers are “enormous.”

From a one kilowatt supply of energy, Trio can convert it to 5kW worth of heat. For example, in order for a greenhouse the size of 1,000 square meters to have a temperature rise of seven degrees, about 70KW of energy is needed. “With Trio, we can reduce this need to 15kW,” says Drori. This amounts to savings of about $15 per square meter, per year, while giving rise to higher quality crops.

The technology, the company says, is a breakthrough product for commercial greenhouse heating and dehumidification, saving up to two-thirds of the energy used in conventional greenhouse operations. Specially designed heat pumps supply and recycle heat energy within your greenhouse, while keeping humidity low. The result is lower, or even “zero,” fuel consumption by greenhouse boilers and furnaces.

Suited to any climate or crop, Trio’s technology can be fitted to existing greenhouses and conventional heating systems, or can be added onto new greenhouse projects.

The technology works by cooling the roof of the greenhouse instead of heating it, and by decreasing the humidity in the greenhouse environment. Extracting water from the greenhouse decreases humidity by about 20 percent, which also has positive environmental effects.

Clean water is bonus by-product

For one, a reduction in humidity, they say, reduces plant diseases in the greenhouse. The technology also sucks about 250 litres of water a day out of the air (per 1,000 sq/m greenhouse), providing fresh drinking water, or irrigation water in regions where water is scarce.

Based in Zichron Yaacov, Israel, with offices in New York, the two-year-old company has been working with Bio-Bee, a pest management company based in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, and is looking to build a pilot plant in either Italy or France this year.

The company expects American greenhouse growers will be keen on the technology, as growing greenhouse crops, such as tomatoes, escalates with the rising cost of oil.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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