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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 07/02/2024
AbstractThe field of aeroponics has seen rapid development in recent years as the innovations have shifted from primarily research-based, to a much more market-oriented domain. This study outlines the design, prototyping, and testing of an intelligent Aeroponic Root Chamber (iARC), capable of growing a wide variety of crops with the added ability to facilitate optimized root crop growth. Four prototype chambers were built, each with a variation of mister flow rate and mister placement. Chambers 1 and 2 utilized a low-flow rate defined as 0.75 gph (2.8 Lph), while Chambers 3 and 4 had a high-flow rate defined as 2 gph (7.6 Lph). Chambers 1 and 3 had one band of 4 misters spaced equally apart, while Chambers 2 and 4 utilized a staggered two-band design, with two misters on a lower-band separated by 180°, and two misters on an upper-band also with a separation of 180°. The four chambers were tested to determine flow rate and measure the corresponding angle of mist as it left the emitter. Subsequently, 3D models were generated to demonstrate a simulated crop growing in each chamber, allowing for precise calculations of overall coverage by direct misting. The outcomes of this experiment were used to establish a relative hierarchy in performance among the four chambers, ranging from most to least optimal in terms of mister coverage and expected plant growth success. A second follow-up demonstration was conducted taking the best and worst ranked prototypes and comparing root length for crops grown within each. The results of this experiment concluded that no chamber appeared to be superior in performance, however all designs demonstrated the capability of successfully growing crops. Initial testing showed promising results for the viability of a generic iARC design, whereby all four prototypes were capable of successfully growing crops. Based on the findings of both experiments, it was recommended that the iARC design continue to be refined, and additional growing data be collected using the various chamber prototypes.
Degree ProgramGraduate College