Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by janrinok on Sunday November 20, @05:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the waste-not-want-not dept.

https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/340991-researchers-grew-bigger-vegetables-using-exhaled-co2-as-fertilizer

Scientists recently tested the effect of funneling carbon dioxide-rich exhaust toward a vegetable garden, and the results were (literally) huge.

A team of agricultural researchers at Boston University came up with the idea while brainstorming ways to make urban environments more sustainable. As cities become denser, humans require more resources, and climate change worsens, buildings will likely require modifications to serve multiple purposes and recycle resource byproducts. Busy lecture halls with indoor climate control systems, it turns out, are a perfect example of such modifications. The building's exhaust contains high levels of CO2, which plants convert to energy during photosynthesis.

Rather than releasing that CO2 into the environment uncontrolled, the researchers thought to direct their building's exhaust toward an experimental rooftop garden. The garden, nicknamed BIG GRO, contained beds of spinach and corn. While both are common edible plants, corn photosynthesizes in a way that requires less CO2 than spinach, allowing it to serve as a control while the spinach ideally revealed the system's advantages and disadvantages.

[...] The plants that had been exposed to the building's exhaust had grown up to four times larger than the plants placed next to a control fan. The spinach in particular had quadruple the biomass of its control; the corn, despite its own special brand of photosynthesis, had two to three times the biomass of its control. Though the corn's growth causes the team to think the extra CO2 wasn't the only reason their experiment succeeded, there's now concrete reason to believe rooftop farms like BIG GRO could benefit from buildings' otherwise wasted exhaust.


Original Submission

This discussion was created by janrinok (52) for logged-in users only, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by HiThere on Sunday November 20, @06:05PM (4 children)

    by HiThere (866) on Sunday November 20, @06:05PM (#1280697) Journal

    In several previous similar studies, the plants grew larger, but were deficient in proteins and minerals. This is what I would intuitively expect as carbohydrates, including cellulose, are basically built out of carbon and water. You don't magically get the other ingredients. Proteins require not only energy, but bio-available nitrogen. Minerals also don't magically appear. (Increased transpiration might help transport them up, but that depends on dissolved concentrations of minerals.)

    So perhaps one can manage a balanced version of this kind of thing with hydroponics or special fertilizers, but it's not likely to be anything that will happen automatically.

    --
    Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, @07:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, @07:36PM (#1280707)

      Were they deficient as compared to a control group, or deficient in a concentration sense, such as grams of nutrient per grams of biomass?

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by cykros on Sunday November 20, @08:51PM (2 children)

      by cykros (989) on Sunday November 20, @08:51PM (#1280714)

      This is interesting, but I wonder if there's an as yet unfound sweet spot where providing additional soil-based nutrients to the plant can alleviate these deficiencies. As I understand it (not a botanist!), typically providing an excessive amount of nutrients to a plant will often cause "burns" or other problems, but I'm curious if perhaps offsetting the extra nutrients with extra CO2 would balance that out, or, perhaps, if there were another factor or two that could be tweaked. This seems like it could help solve both hunger AND at least address carbon levels if only we solve for the vitamin issue. Even if not, these vitamin deficient foods plus piles of vitamin supplements seem like they'd be useful for starving communities, whether or not it happens to be the ideal way to get your calories.

      • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Monday November 21, @03:15AM

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 21, @03:15AM (#1280749) Homepage Journal

        providing additional soil-based nutrients to the plant can alleviate these deficiencies.

        I think that the key there is "soil based". Bacteria and fungi have to process micronutrients, so the plants can use them. Or, those nutrients need to come from biomass - decaying vegetation in most cases, or decaying animal matter. A mountain of iron (or whatever) does no good at all, until it is processed in the soil, into a bio-available form.

        --
        Don’t confuse the news with the truth.
      • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Monday November 21, @05:08AM

        by ChrisMaple (6964) on Monday November 21, @05:08AM (#1280760)

        Hunger is not a problem. Hunger is a sensation telling you it's time to eat. If a person isn't getting enough food, it's malnutrition or starvation.

  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, @06:24PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, @06:24PM (#1280700)

    No way am I eating something that some acne'd nerds breathed all over. I'd literally rather eat dog shit.

    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Sunday November 20, @11:18PM

      by RamiK (1813) on Sunday November 20, @11:18PM (#1280727)

      I think a more realistic application is putting up germination greenhouses next to indoor poultry sheds and pump the exhausts through.

      --
      compiling...
    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Mykl on Monday November 21, @12:08AM

      by Mykl (1112) on Monday November 21, @12:08AM (#1280735)

      Just curious - do you pee on your lemon tree?

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by janrinok on Monday November 21, @05:59AM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 21, @05:59AM (#1280762) Journal

      You already eat food that has had animal faeces sprayed all over it - or do you think that manure is so much cleaner than "some acne'd nerds breath".

      You already breathe air that is much more polluted than the breath that you fear might come from "some acne'd nerd".

      I'd literally rather eat dog shit

      I don't believe you.

      I think that you were attempting humour. For me, it didn't hit the right spot to be considered as such.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by turgid on Sunday November 20, @07:40PM (1 child)

    by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 20, @07:40PM (#1280708) Journal

    Though the corn's growth causes the team to think the extra CO2 wasn't the only reason their experiment succeeded

    Was the air warmer too?

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @10:01PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @10:01PM (#1280722)

      Warm, moist, and containing all kinds of animal chemicals that come out in your breath along with the CO2.

      --
      Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/878601.html Слава Україні 🌻
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Snotnose on Sunday November 20, @09:22PM (1 child)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Sunday November 20, @09:22PM (#1280716)

    Didn't someone figure out 30 years ago that talking to your plant made it grow better? Granted, these were indoor plants, not food plants. But I could have sworn they figured out talking to your plants made them grow better because of the excess CO2.

    --
    Why is tamales pronounced tamales but females is pronounced females instead of females?
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Unixnut on Sunday November 20, @10:51PM

      by Unixnut (5779) on Sunday November 20, @10:51PM (#1280724)

      Yes, I remember that too. Likewise pumping CO2 into greenhouses to help plants grow is pretty old hat by now as well. To be honest I don't see anything unique or new in this article, except that the source of CO2 is the HVAC system of a building (Have not come across that source before, but makes sense).

(1)