TU Delft - We need your help! Questions regarding a futuristic Food Computer project


#1

Dear Community,

We are a team of six Industrial Design Master students from TU Delft, Netherlands - currently developing a futuristic concept based on this amazing project by MIT. We are really excited about being part of this innovative project. Since we are all new to the topic of Food Computers, Aeroponics and gardening in general, we would be really grateful if you could help answer some questions of our steadily growing list:


PFC= Personal Food Computer V.2

Environmental control
2. Which kind of edible plants could be easily grown in a PFC? [answered]
3. Which kinds would be challenging to grow? Why? Could Cucumbers or Beans be grown, for example, if there would be a pole inside a future PFC that the tribe can twist around? [ partly answered]
4. Which kind of edible plants (examples) could not be grown? Why?
5. Could different plants theoretically be grown next to each other?
What would be necessary to do so? E.g. every plant would need to be able to be individually shielded from light sources? Separate root chambers ect…
6. Which environmental factors should be able to change inside the PFC-chamber? Light, …humidity? [answered]
7. Which factors should be able to change inside the PFC-Rootchamber? Only the nutritional mist composition?

Product in general
13. Which light source/technology does the PFC use? (lightcolour?)
16. How do you plant the seeds in the tray? Which material is used, if any?

User and market
18. For the current PFC how (much) do users have to interfere in the growth process besides planting seeds?

Aeroponics
20. How do you clean the root chamber of the PFC? [answered]
21. How much space should be considered for the roots - considering that bigger vegetables such as Zucchini could be grown in a future larger device. [partly answered]
22. What are the biggest challenges for an aeroponic system? [answered]

Please don’t hesitate to ask or correct us. :kissing:


#2

Hi. I can share my thought on some of these questions.
-2. Almost everybody starts with lettuce. It’s quite forgiving and there is a lot of info available for diagnosing problems (lighting, nutrients, infections, etc) Leafy plants are the easiest to grow.

I haven’t seen anything that can’t be grown with aeroponics or hydroponics. Entire trees have been grown before. As long as you can support the plant it will work.

-6. Choosing what you want to control is a tricky decision. In a commercial hydroponic farm near me, their main controls are irrigation, CO2, humidity and ventilation. For an artificially lit system, I think the main controls should be light, irrigation, ventilation and solution cooling. Plants can keep themselves cool if well ventilated and heating is rarely required.

That farm that I mentioned mainly grows cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. Hydroponics under glass.

-20. So far I’ve used Hydrogen Peroxide for cleaning the root chamber. I’m planning experiments with antibacterial coatings and UV light.

-21. The usual root chamber depth is 280mm. This is not for root vegetables. The root chambers for potatoes are around a metre deep.

-22. Aeroponics is more costly, harder to maintain and has a higher failure rate. Nozzles get clogged and need to be cleaned. Aeroponics systems sometimes have a hydroponics backup to mitigate risk.


#3

Thanks so much Yusuf! You’ve been a great help - we really appreciate it!


#4

Hey everyone,
Thanks to Yusuf Khan some of our questions already got answered. We have several new ones that we cannot figure out ourselves:

23.How are seeds planted in the MIT Foodcomputer or what would be the best way to plant seeds? Some people seem to use wet rockwool while others place the seed in a black sponge-like material as can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01T3T6u46xg. Any idea what that latter material is and if it’s more suitable than rockwool?

24.Do vegetable roots have to hang loose without touching the ground inside a root chamber or can they be entangled and squeezed together? If roots could be entangled and lay on the ground that would allow for smaller root chambers but the roots might not be able to soak up enough nutritional mist?

25.Regarding Aeroponics: How are the roots provided with nutritions? Are they sprayed with nutritional mist or water? Are the roots sprayed at directly or does the mist spread in the chamber and reaches every root equally?

Once again, we would be really grateful for anyone’s help :slight_smile:


#5

Hi guys,

I am based in Leiden and have quite a bit of experience in the PFC and other systems. Contact me if you like by phone to discuss this in more detail:
0647262182

Ronald