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IJESD 2017 Vol.8(10): 728-735 ISSN: 2010-0264
doi: 10.18178/ijesd.2017.8.10.1047

A Numerical Model for Simulating the Indoor Climate inside the Growing Chambers of Vertical Farms with Case Studies

Shengbo Zhang and Ben Schulman

Abstract—Vertical indoor farming is a contemporary concept of growing plants. Indoor climate control for a vertical farm is critical since a failing in climate control may cause a low yield and low-quality product. This paper introduces a method using MATLAB and Simulink to model the climate conditions in the growing chamber of vertical farms. The model consists of an enthalpy (H) integration and a moisture content (m) integration. The climate conditions such as dry bulb temperature (Twb) and relative humidity (φ) are extrapolated based on the specific enthalpy (h) and humidity ratio (w). The model was verified based on the parameters and observations found in an existing indoor vertical farm. Several case studies have been performed using this model on a new farm design to analyze the responses in climate conditions under different scenarios. The results show that the temperature and relative humidity of the growing chamber are maintained at 24°C and 55% when the HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units operate under normal conditions (case study A). Other case studies focus on the response in climate conditions under abnormal circumstances. For the new vertical farm design in particular, it is concluded that the sizing of the proposed HVAC unit produces moderate climate conditions for growing plants – optimal condition may be achieved if the humidity ratio is further lowered. It is recommended for any vertical farm to equip its growing chamber with extra capacity in cooling load for unexpected circumstances.

Index Terms—Climate control, HVAC, computer simulations.

Shengbo Zhang is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Dalhousie University, 5248 Morris Street, PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada (email: Shengbo.zhang@dal.ca).
Ben Schulman is with TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, 540 Southgate Dr., Suite 204, Bedford, NS, B4A 0E1, Canada (email: bschulman@truleaf.ca).


Cite: Shengbo Zhang and Ben Schulman, "A Numerical Model for Simulating the Indoor Climate inside the Growing Chambers of Vertical Farms with Case Studies," International Journal of Environmental Science and Development vol. 8, no. 10, pp. 728-735, 2017.

General Information

  • ISSN: 2010-0264 (Print); 2972-3698 (Online)
  • Abbreviated Title: Int. J. Environ. Sci. Dev.
  • Frequency: Bimonthly
  • DOI: 10.18178/IJESD
  • Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Richard Haynes
  • Managing Editor: Ms. Cherry L. Chen
  • Indexing: Scopus (CiteScore 2022: 1.4), Google Scholar, CNKI, ProQuest, EBSCO, etc. 
  • E-mail: ijesd@ejournal.net

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