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New energy box stores CO2 in vegetables

A British company is launching a new heat and power plant in a box. An aptly named ‘The Green Box’, the device captures CO2 from the flue of a 1 MWe power generator. The Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant is fitted with CO2 capture and heat recovery which is the first and smallest in the world. The plant is mobile and can be transported, erected and commissioned in a matter of days.

The Green box is connected to the natural gas Grid and uses the fuel to generate heat, power and CO2. The heat is used to keep the temperature constant in the greenhouses during summer and winter. Little electricity is consumed in the greenhouse, so most of the power generated is exported to the national power Grid and sold to customers. The CO2 is injected into glasshouses where the carbon dioxide is absorbed by plants and speeds growth of vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes and lettuces. Increasing vegetable growth by up to 30%, the extra CO2 ensures that shoppers can get fresh produce much quicker on the table. In addition, this CO2 storage has benefits for growers and the environment.

The Box helps farmers financially

The boxes benefit farmers and growers by increasing their revenues, cash flow and decreasing their costs. The generator produces the heat and CO2 that plants require and the excess electricity is exported and sold to the Grid or nearby customers for a profit.

The vegetables are grown in the UK and closer to the consumers which decrease food miles and pollution by airplanes and lorries carrying vegetables around the world. In addition to lowering food miles, the energy consumed at the farm is very energy efficient which all benefit the environment by decreasing emissions by almost 50%. The combined heat and power production is the most beneficial energy production method to date as it has some 90% energy efficiency in addition to the use of the CO2 for accelerated vegetable growth.

Alfagy’s chairman, Peter Kindt, says: “I am thrilled that the development of The Green Box came so soon and we are looking forward to plumping millions of tomatoes and vegetables.”

Proven technology and process

The process is safe and has been demonstrated all over mainland Europe in more than 800 locations. The boxes are an efficient way of generating energy locally where it is required. This is a sharp contrast to extraordinary waste of energy production in the UK today. More than 50% of energy is wasted by our power stations and our home boilers today. Instead of making power centrally and wasting heat into the air, the UK could be using local energy that is more efficient and secure. Distributed energy generation is considered to most cost and energy effective way to ensure that the lights stay on and effectively reduce carbon emissions fast.

Peter Kindt adds: “It is incomprehensible that the Government isn’t incentivising energy efficient local heat and power. CHP is an established technology that is easy and cheap to install. Why waste 50% of all energy?”

by S. C.
26 february 2011, Technical Area > Science News

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