Thursday, July 2, 2015

Nemo's Garden

"Just off the coast of Noli, Italy, tethered twenty feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea, hover five bulbous biospheres filled with plants, light, and warm, wet air.
The underwater greenhouses make up Nemo’s Garden, an experimental agricultural project, now in its fourth year, operated by a company that specializes in diving equipment."

Man what the fuck. What even.  No sooner than I'd finished greenhab, some Italians are doing the exact same thing but way bigger and better. Their reasoning for growing terrestrial plants underwater is much the same as mine:

"The balloon-like biospheres take advantage of the sea’s natural properties to grow plants. The underwater temperatures are constant, and the shape of the greenhouses allows for water to constantly evaporate and replenish the plants. What’s more, the high amounts of carbon dioxide act like steroids for the plants, making them grow at very rapid rates.
Ocean Reef Group — a diving equipment company — is monitoring five balloon-like biospheres that house a number of plants, such as basil, lettuce, strawberries and beans. The group has a patent on the structure and plans to build a few more to experiment with other crops, such as mushrooms, which should thrive in the humid environment.

Sergio Gamberini, president of Ocean Reef Group, came up with the “crazy” idea of growing plants under the sea while on a summer vacation in Italy. He immediately made a few calls and started experimenting, sinking the transparent biospheres under the ocean and filling them with air."

Their habitat design is the same one I had in mind for Hamlantis (right). Easy to emplace as you only fill them with air once they're already down there and secured, you can use buckets of sand from the seafloor as ballast, and you can get inside from the waist up to clean cages and resupply food/water.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Greenhab is humid

That's good! Plants love warm, humid conditions. At least the ones I'll be growing. I had in fact cultivated some seedlings in anticipation and have now transplanted them into the soil of greenhab. It was really rewarding to see the water injection system working for the first time. Depress the plunger up by the compressor, then inside the habitat a moment later there's a brief spray of water. 

While there's condensation (which is weird to see underwater) it means there's enough moisture in the habitat for the time being. The constant throughput of dry air eventually carries it all away, at which point the condensation vanishes, my cue to inject more water. I didn't think doing this with plants would be so interesting, but it already is.

One possible implication is that in any hypothetical undersea colony, the plants and humans should be kept in separate habitats, or the module with plants should be separated from the rest with a humidity barrier as ideal conditions for plants differ greatly from ideal conditions for humans. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Greenhab 2.0 complete and in the water

Cousteau's there in the back, thoughtfully nomming some corms. Greenhab 2 is all put together, the holdup was waiting on lead shot ballast in the mail. It's great stuff as it'll conform to the shape of whatever ballast container you're using and opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of hab design.

No soil or plants yet, I'll do that tomorrow. Then post pics once there's something green in there to look at. Having trouble with algae in the water again, despite regular use of an algaecide. The warm weather's to blame. I also feel as if I'm just now getting back to where I was with the project in 2013.

I expanded too fast without an idea of where I was going with it. The half assed Greenhab 1.0 was a symptom of that. Now that the new one is properly set up for plants (and permanent use) my focus will be on finishing the really big habitat.

I have all the weights for it (Twelve 5lb block weights for a total of 60lbs) just need ballast containers now. Nobody seems to have the Otterbox line in stock anymore so I'll have to identify a similarly proportioned replacement.

After that I gotta add the window to the lid (because the only model of that drybox still being sold has an opaque lid for some reason). Everything else is easily taken care of. The big hab won't fit in the aquarium, by the by. You wanted big, you got big. But it will need to be emplaced in a pond or lake. Not sure what I'm gonna do about that. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Greenhab 2.0: Watering mechanism

In the process of rebuilding Greenhab (the first was destroyed when I tried to use the dishwasher to clean it, only for it to partially melt) I decided I don't want it to be a single use gimmick. I want it to really work, and be able to stay down permanently.

Two problems with the last one: 1. too cold, and 2. no way to water the plants without bringing it up. I solved 1 by adding resistive heater pads.

They may or may not be too warm, if so I can add an inline potentiometer to throttle how much current they receive. I thought I'd solve 2 by adding a second tube just for water.

But, I hate adding extra surface connections, Quickly becomes an ugly, unmanageable tangle. Instead, I've worked out that I can simply inject water into the existing airline, letting the compressor push it down to the plants. This means Greenhab 2.0 will never need to be resurfaced.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Scratch that last post, Aqua Bubble is lost

Could swear I'd seen it recently but after several days of searching I just can't put my hands on it. That's a shame. Currently in the process of building a new greenhab after the dishwasher partially melted the last one, so hopefully I'll have something new to show soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Summer mini-expeditions

As I've not been able to afford to do much work towards completing the really big habitat, and the weather outside is getting nice and warm, I thought I'd do some short term stuff in natural bodies of water.

There are some ponds, lakes, and creeks nearby. Some even have reasonably clear water. My thinking was to take the battery backup air compressor, a length of air hose and the aqua bubble. Then emplace it on the bottom for 10-15 minutes at a time, running the compressor off its internal battery.

I would of course film this from underwater. I'm expecting it to be neato to finally get some decent footage of the aquabubble somewhere other than the aquarium. More to come.