Vertical Farming Project

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Capar, Grace
Darrach, Owen
Ediger, William
Neufeld, Cara
Stephensen, Sean
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Founded in 1985, Vidir Solutions is a Manitoban company that specializes in vertical, motorized storage solutions. In their 35 years of operation, Vidir has become a leading manufacturer and worldwide supplier of vertical motorized storage carousels and display systems [1]. Vidir has a diverse product line offering solutions for a broad range of industries. One may even see their products being used in stores like Home Depot, Lowe's, or Menards. Being located in the rural community of Vidir, Manitoba, Vidir Solutions aims to serve the agricultural community which surrounds it. Combining mechanical design and agricultural considerations, Vidir Solutions would like to enter the vertical farming market. In conjunction with a separate Biosystems design team, Group 11 has been tasked with aiding Vidir in retrofitting an existing carousel to be a fully climate-controlled plant growth environment as there are no motorized products like this currently on the market. Specifically, the design is constrained to the existing 10x10-foot concrete pad and must maintain an internal temperature between 20 and 30°C and an internal relative humidity between 45 and 60%. The deliverables for this project include a 3D CAD model, a Bill of Materials, and associated calculations. For ease of design, Team 11 split the design process into three focus areas: structural, HVAC, and renewable energy. Numerous concepts were explored, including combinations of insulation and construction methods, heating, cooling, and combined systems, as well as a feasibility study on the use of renewable energy power sources. The design development process involved defining and integrating these focus areas. The systems were designed based on a mixture of analytical and numerical analyses to specify design details. Analysis provided a proof-of-concept based on proven methods, therefore allowing Team 11 to more effectively meet client needs of safety, structural integrity, thermal stability, and humidity control. Furthermore, analysis allowed Team 11 to verify that the design will meet relevant codes and standards. The structural design uses a modular panel system for the walls, floor, and roof, taking advantage of Vidir's manufacturing capabilities. The panels feature a steel tubing frame, held together with rivets to achieve a permanent connection, and will house closed-cell spray foam insulation. Panels, flooring, and roof are connected to the concrete pad and carousel frame using bolt connections through metal brackets. This design ensures an easy-to-install, well-insulated, rigid structure around the carousel that can be effectively climate-controlled, increasing overall energy efficiency. A mini-split system was selected for the HVAC heating unit, consisting of an indoor wall unit and outdoor heat pump, supplying 9,000 BTUh, surpassing the required 3,035 BTUh. The heating system also includes a heat recovery ventilator to facilitate outdoor air intake and humidifier to deliver the required humidity levels. Team 11 opted to use a convection-based cooling system with an intake and exhaust fan to circulate outdoor air. This HVAC system will allow for efficient climate control able to handle varying plant growth conditions while requiring minimal interaction. Team 11 determined the entire system could be powered by five solar panels with a collective annual energy generation of 40,740 kWh, meeting 120% of the energy demand. Due to the size of these panels, they will have to be mounted externally from the main structure. For the purpose of Vidir's first enclosure, it was determined that panels could be installed on their surrounding buildings. The system will be connected to the grid as a fail-safe against solar panel failure. Implementation of solar panels results in a more sustainable system and lower long-term energy costs. The enclosure has been designed to facilitate plant growth in extreme Manitoban weather conditions. The entire system is estimated to cost $17,304.45 for components sourced outside of Vidir's capabilities. This system is energy-efficient, easy-to-implement, and has long-term sustainability. The enclosure may be adjusted to be applied to varying applications. Team 11 recommends implementing the presented solution at Vidir's Arborg location to prove the feasibility of the design in the field, further improving on any unforeseen issues that may arise.
Mechanical Engineering