By Troy Brooks
Wednesday, Oct. 21 is Nation Bioenergy Day and Appalachian State’s Energy Center is celebrating by inviting the local community to learn about the Nexus project.
Faculty and students are providing public tours of the research site and teaching guests about the Nexus project, biomass technologies, renewable energy and the benefits that the project can provide to the community.
“Our main goal now is to transfer the technology,” said Dr. Ok-youn Yu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built-Environment. “We’re hoping that locals will learn about our technology, and we hope local farmers will adopt the Nexus greenhouse system for their own use. The open house next week will help plant the seeds for future growth in the expansion of our greenhouses and will also allow us to work with the community to get the most out of our system and improve their efficiency.”
The Nexus project is a 20-foot by 30-foot greenhouse built with several experimental systems based upon sustainable technologies. The goals of Nexus include providing a low-cost biomass greenhouse heating system for local farmers to extend the growing season, enhance the community’s access to fresh produce, increase farmer income during the colder months and protect the environment by reducing fossil-fuel energy and greenhouse gas emissions.
Research is conducted by both Appalachian State faculty and students.
The greenhouse’s functions by using organic waste, such as animal manure, woodchips and crop scraps, to produce energy that can heat the greenhouse, enhancing the growing season for farmers and improving soil quality.
“Most growing seasons last for only a few months from April to September.” said Yu” “We’re looking to use greenhouses like Nexus to extend that growing season from March until November, giving farmers more time to grow crops and earn more profit. In addition, the extra months give the community further access to fresh produce during the year. Lastly, the systems in the greenhouse counter local pollution, producing less emission than normal. Everybody benefits in the end.”
Both faculty and staff are looking for a good turnout next week and are hoping that people will take interest in the project and the benefits it provides for the community.
“We’ve already had some interviews with local farmers and they’ve shown great interest in the project,” said Yu. “We want to let the farming community that this technology is available to them. It’s been four years now since we began Nexus and we feel that it’s time to raise awareness.”
Nexus uses a wide variety of technologies and systems, including.
- Solar Photovoltaic
- Solar Thermal Collectors
- Automated Thermal Battery heat storage
- Residence-scale Wind Turbines
- Anaerobic digesters
- Biochar makers
- Compost Heating Systems
- Integrated Aquaponics systems
Guests on Oct. 21 will have a chance to learn about these technologies and their benefits.
The open house is located next to the Watauga County Animal Control Dept. off of 672 Landfill Rd. in Boone.
Three tours of the facility will be conducted at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. Registration is free to the public. However, parking is limited so guests must register in advance spots for the tours.
Available spots are filling up fast so anybody interesting in joining a tour should register now. To register, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/nexus-open-house-on-national-bioenergy-day-tickets-18637686823.
For more information on the open house, visit energy.appstate.edu/calendar/1867.