An Aeroponic Greenhouse and Anaerobic Digester: Linking sustainability with research and education on Clarkson University’s campus


In February 2015, TISED and SEAM (Sustainability in Engineering at McGill)* co-hosted a seminar presented by Dr. Stefan Grimberg (Clarkson University) on "An Aeroponic Greenhouse and Anaerobic Digester:  Linking sustainability with research and education on Clarkson University’s campus". 


An integrated food digester/greenhouse system was built on the Clarkson University campus (Potsdam, NY) three years ago. Since then, the system has been used for undergraduate and graduate research on the individual systems and, more recently, to develop a cyber-learning tool enabling the integration of campus sustainability projects into a wide variety of classes. 

During this seminar, Dr. Stefan Grimberg will describe the food digester/greenhouse system components and also give a range of examples showing us how the cyber-learning tool was used in core science (e.g. mathematics) and engineering courses (e.g. capstone course, introduction to renewable energy course).

So far, initial assessment indicates that this cyber-learning tool has improved students’ sustainability literacy and that by including the projects in their courses, students were more stimulated and their STEM self-efficacy skills improved (e.g. gained enhanced skillsets for data retrieval).

More on the Clarkson University Aeroponic Greenhouse and Anaerobic Digester

Single and two-phase operations were compared at mesophilic operating conditions using a digester system consisting of three 5-m3 reactors treating food waste generated daily within the university campus kitchens.  It has been treating between 50 – 150 kg pre-consumer food waste per day for the past two years. When normalizing the methane production to the daily feedstock characteristics, significantly greater methane was produced during two-phase mesophilic digestion compared to the single-stage operation. The fermentation (first stage) reactor could be maintained reliably even under very low loading rates indicating that this process is very well suited to treating high strength waste at very variable loading rates, encountered at university campuses.

About the Speaker

Stefan GrimbergStefan GrimbergStefan Grimberg, Professor and Chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Clarkson University, has published more than 50 journal articles, conference proceedings or reports and has delivered more than 90 professional talks at academic conferences or universities around the world.  Dr. Grimberg has been the investigator on research grants from the National Science Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, NYSERDA and other funding agencies.  His research most recently has focused on anaerobic digestion of agricultural or other high-strength wastes for the generation of energy.  In particular, his research group investigated the anaerobic digestion of sand-laden dairy manure for a midsize dairy farm in Northern New York.  In addition the studies and modeling of co-digestion of dairy and manure wastes in single and two phased digester systems.  Dr. Grimberg also has been actively involved in the New York Water Environment Association as the Chair of the university committee and the advisor to the student chapters.

Presentation Slides

PDF icon grimberg_-_an_aeroponic_greenhouse_and_anaerobic_digester.pdf


Watch Dr. Grimberg give his seminar in the video below (works best on Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox):


Event Poster

*SEAM is a McGill student group that fosters a culture of sustainability by effectively delivering information and supplying resources for the engineering community.