SMAC² Lab > Cooper Hydroponics
We are working on designing and implementing a hydroponics system capable of growing Salicornia Bigelovii and converting its seeds and biomass to jet fuel. Students in the Electrical, Chemical, and General Engineering disciplines are collaborating with Professor Davis and Professor Shlayan to build a test-bed hydroponics system to optimize the growth of Salicornia.
In our current stage, we are modifying the system so it is capable of both controlling the plant’s growing conditions (light, nutrient, humidity, etc.) and aggregating sensory / harvest data over the plant’s growth cycle. This system will be able to be interfaced with a dedicated website to allow for remote monitoring.
The goal of the project currently is to be able to use the aggregated data to create a "growth recipe” which can be inputed to the automated hydroponics system to allow for the Salicornia to grow quickly and efficiently. We are using Salicornia because it is an oily, inedible halophyte, meaning that it does not require freshwater to grow and therefore should not disrupt the food ecosystem. Once the plant has been grown, we are planning to do experimentation on the plant biomass to convert into useful fuels like jet.