“When you look at the drilling cost and impact on the environment of conventional geothermal energy, EcoLoop™ is a lot lighter,” says Sunny Kaercher of the commercial sales and design department at Ceres.
In January 2020, Ceres introduced its EcoLoop™ climate control greenhouse system, a ground-coupled heat pump system designed to heat, cool and dehumidify Ceres’ sealed greenhouses. In effect, EcoLoop™ combines conventional above-ground HVAC systems with below-ground heat exchange mats. According to Ceres, EcoLoop™ can reduce energy consumption by up to 60% by decreasing the amount of energy that aboveground systems pull from the electrical grid or other resources.
“Our goal as a company is to pair the most perfect growing environment with sustainable technology. It’s not just about being environmentally friendly, not just about the plant environment, but about finding where the two intersect,” explains Sunny.
EcoLoop™ is coupled with the SunSense controller, also developed by Ceres, which is the brain of the operation, managing the climate in the greenhouse and headhouse. Among the advantages of EcoLoop™ is a lower installation cost than traditional geothermal installation, which involves drilling vertical boreholes 300–400 feet underground.
EcoLoop™ to be installed by BlackBox Systems and Technologies in Michigan
For BlackBox Systems and Technologies LLC, a subsidiary of Hero Technologies, Inc. (OTC: HENC; Twitter: @heroicmindtech), EcoLoop™ will provide a high-tech, low-cost solution for growing cannabis. Combining EcoLoop™ with its proprietary, state-of-the-art aeroponic system, BlackBox expects to produce high-yield, high-profit cannabis crops on its 120-acre property in Fairfield, Michigan.
“What first attracted us to EcoLoop™ was the installation,” says Marc Kasabasic of BlackBox Systems. “In Fairfield, we don’t have access to natural gas, so we felt that geothermal was the way to go. Also, the fact that the SunSense controller is VPD-based led us to choose Ceres.”
“VPD-based” controllers optimize a ratio of temperature and humidity rather than managing each factor individually. After years of experimenting with environmental optimization, BlackBox has found that VPD-based climate control is the best way to ensure crop health and help maximize yield.
BlackBox is preparing to expand its Michigan operations, planning to break ground on 10 acres in September, 2021, and building a 27,000-square-foot facility over the next year. According to Marc, the first 10 acres will support four greenhouses, with twelve more greenhouses to be built elsewhere on the company’s property in the coming years.
“We expect to harvest once a week, which is exceptional for a facility of this size. When we have the twelve additional greenhouses, we plan to harvest one greenhouse per week, then clean the entire area before starting again,” explains Marc.
For its greenhouses, BlackBox is using Ceres’ SunChambers, which are sealed to improve environmental control, minimize use of resources and reduce costs. While Ceres provides turnkey greenhouse solutions, the company can also adapt its designs to accommodate growers like BlackBox who have their own cultivation systems. For BlackBox, the sealed SunChambers with VPD control provide the ideal environment for growing cannabis.
With Ceres SunChambers, BlackBox will be able to recapture condensate from the dehumidification process and recycle it, cutting down on water consumption. Marc estimates that the condensate flow will be just 16 gallons per hour in each greenhouse.
“No matter where you’re growing, being able to re-use the water that’s already in your plumbing system is a good way to increase sustainability,” says Sunny. “The water can either be put down the drain or recirculated. With our system, we close that loop.”
For more information:
Ceres Greenhouse Solutions
BlackBox Systems LLC