Geothermal Solar Greenhouse Overview – Climate Battery Discussion – Sustainable Living

Geothermal Solar Greenhouse Overview - Climate Battery Discussion - Sustainable Living

Osentowski, director and founder of Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI), farms at 7,200 feet on a steep, rocky hillside in Colorado, incorporating deep, holistic permaculture design with practical common sense. It is at this site, high on a mountaintop, where Osentowski (along with architect and design partner Michael Thompson) has been designing and building revolutionary greenhouses that utilize passive and active solar technology via what they call the “climate battery”—a subterranean air-circulation system that takes the hot, moist, ambient air from the greenhouse during the day, stores it in the soil, and discharges it at night—that can offer tropical and Mediterranean climates at similarly high altitudes and in cold climates (and everywhere else). Osentowski’s greenhouse designs, which can range from the backyard homesteader to commercial greenhouses, are completely ecological and use a simple design that traps hot and cold air and regulates it for best possible use. The book is part case study of the amazing greenhouses at CRMPI and part how-to primer for anyone interested in a more integrated model for growing food and medicine in a greenhouse. With detailed design drawings, photos, and profiles of successful greenhouse projects on all scales, this inspirational manual will considerably change the conversation about greenhouse design.

Climate Battery Functions

The magic of phase change from liquid to vapor and back again drives the Climate Battery™, or Subterranean Heating and Cooling System (SHCS). The system functions like a simple refrigeration system, moving heat from one place to another. But a typical 1200 square foot greenhouse needs only the equivalent equipment and running costs of a single large household refrigerator!

By slowly circulating all of the hot, moist daytime air of the greenhouse down underground where it is always cooler than the greenhouse air, the Climate Battery forces the vapor to condense. By doing so, the solar heat as well as the chemical heat from the plant photosynthesis that was required to evaporate the moisture in the first place is forced into the soil. The “miracle” is that by inducing temperature change over the phase change barrier we have the potential to harness 5 times the energy normally the case if we simply tried to solar heat objects cluttering up your precious greenhouse floor space. And by inducing this “dewpoint” condition in the soil of the greenhouse, the plant roots are always being bathed in warm, moist conditions – the perfect balance for plants and solar greenhouses. The space is heated by the massive amount of radiating solar heat stored in the soil under the greenhouse, and with fans to circulate cooler nighttime greenhouse air through the tubing network, adding warmth and moisture back to the greenhouse.

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Written by Aleksandar

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  1. I've heard the optimum depth on average is 16 feet because it takes 6 months for the cold to finally get down there and 6 months for the heat so it seems to be the optimal depth. That being said it matters where you are and what your digging of coarse.

  2. If I'm not mistaken, you recycle heat emitted by plant respiration, an exothermic process, pumping it underground via fans to heat the concrete foundation, which then warms the greenhouse via the fans when the Sun sets, preventing the plants from freezing to death. The fans, I guess, Diamond, would be powered by solar energy and a battery. That's smart but will I need such a greenhouse in warm Australia?

  3. Diamond, I like your solar greenhouse barn but how will it heat your whole house? Also, will Australia still be warm in the Eddy Minimum? Will I still be able to buy food? Thanks, mate.

  4. HI! My fiance watches your videos quite a bit, and showed me this one. I think what you're doing is a cool idea: using geothermal heating to build a greenhouse with year round harvest. Having said that, I'm wondering about the Coke bottles; you're right to assume that the cylindrical shape of the Coke bottles is very strong, but that only applies to the strength of the bottles themselves. Should the ground shift (and it will), and your concrete crack (which it will), putting Coke bottles in there all willy nilly will essentially render the concrete paper thin in some areas and inches thick in others, resulting in your foundation eventually, literally, falling apart.

    Normally, we use a lot of rebar (reinforcing steel bars) in concrete (this is what reinforced concrete is) to make basically a giant wire frame that the concrete then wraps around when it dries (the rebar is ribbed to allow concrete to mold to even the straight sections while it's wet and to dry in position, forming a friction fit). Because of this, when concrete cracks as it always does eventually, the upper piece doesn't just fall over, because both it and the piece it's broken off of are tied together by the same wire frame running throughout. In your design, even if there is rebar in your concrete, it's not pervasive, so that tying effect is negated, and the concrete itself is more brittle because you've introduced all these rather large, tighly packed, and unconnected, voids to the concrete.

    I imagine that the concrete will break first at the weakest spot, and the weight of that large dangling slab may or may not be enough to crush a few of these very strong bottles. Having said all that, introducing air pockets of any kind into a material makes it a better heat insulator, so you will have that benefit.

    Anyway, it looks like it's too late now, but as soon as I saw this construction I felt like someone needed to mention this and maybe nobody had. Good luck with the rest of the project: interested in seeing how this turns out :-).

  5. Insulation aggregates mixed with concrete is something I've been working with for the last couple of years. The foundation wall at that depth, it is only compressive strength you are concerned with not torsional strength. Mixing in aggregates with thermal properties. Example, vermiculite or perlite. For my floor I used 8" of 3 bags of vermiculite and 1 bag of sand to 1 bag of concrete. And the floor is always warm regardless of how cold it is. Because vermiculite is like wood, not cold to the touch.

  6. How long for completion, and how long to do it total from star to finish. What is the manpower required…guess there's going to be a longer time lapsed video at some point…lol Looks cool

  7. Please update more on this!!! And the bottle-thing!!! Thanx for sharing! Hugs from Sweden( We got first snow today!!!! So i played x-mas music and cleaned the house 🙂

  8. Tyvek?
    Stone/brick, plaster and lime. This has worked in Europe for 2000 years. Our technology will allow us to create a 'hermetically' sealed house of 1200 ft sq. with a 8 inch by 8 inch hole in the wall. So in other words we can't . Moisture will always get in. The trick is how do we let it get out. The Europeans solved this long ago without the use of 'High tech' and it has yet to be supplanted David.
    Having said all that, this will work for quite some time. Perhaps long enough. You are an inspiration lad. You do very good work.
    Thank you for energy spent.


Cold Climate Greenhouse: S1 E7 - Project Update

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