Greenhouses and environmental control

The idea of growing plants in environmentally controlled areas has existed since Roman times. The emperor Tiberius ate a cucumber-like vegetable daily. The Roman gardeners used artificial methods (similar to the greenhouse system) of growing to have the vegetable available on his table every day of the year.

The next step from the conventional greenhouse as we know it today will be the introduction of “vertical farms”. Currently, sophisticated so called “plantscrapers“ are being planned or are already under construction in Sweden, Japan, China, Singapore and the United States.

Skyscraper

Skyscraper farming might yet be a possible answer to the question of how to feed the nine billion people that are expected by the middle of the century. These types of green-houses have a tightly con-trolled level of temperature, humidity & CO2, sophisticated watering systems and in addition to sunlight, advanced artificial LED lighting that is specifically designed and installed for each plant family. This way, the crops grow much faster and very efficiently all year round. It is estimated, that the Swedish plantscraper that is planned to be 54m high, will produce thousands of tonnes of food a year, enough to feed up to 30,000 people.

Facts & figures:

  • Tomato is the second most important commercial vegetable crop after potato. Current world production is about 100 million tonnes produced on 3.7 million hectares.
  • In the year 2000, per capita consumption of fresh tomatoes in the U.S. was 17.8 lb,/ 8.73 kg.
  • About 85 percent of the world’s soybeans are processed, or “crushed,” annually into soybean meal and oil. Around 98 percent of the soybean meal that is crushed is further processed into animal feed.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that world production of carrots and turnips (these plants are combined by the FAO for reporting purposes) for calendar year 2011 was almost 35,658 million tonnes.

Why do we need to measure humidity?

Greenhouse humidity levels are important both in prevent-ing plant diseases and promot-ing healthy and strong plant growth. High humidity can promote Botrytis and other fungal diseases. High humidity also restricts plant transpira-tion, which in turn limits evapo-rative leaf cooling and can lead to overheating of plant foliage. If high humidity persists for a long time, the restriction of transpiration can limit the “transpiration stream” of nutrients and can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Low humidity levels are best avoided because these may increase foliar transpiration to the extent that the root system cannot keep up. Humidity is perhaps the most difficult of the greenhouse conditions to control. Most growers simply aim to avoid the extremes of humidity. Over most temperature ranges, a greenhouse humidity of 50 – 85 %rh is generally safe. Low humidity can be managed with the use of misters and foggers. It is also useful to shade plants under conditions of low humidity to reduce the rate of transpiration.

Transpiring plants add water vapour to the greenhouse air, increasing the humidity inside the greenhouse. Therefore, managing high humidity starts with ventilation control. Replacing warmer, humid greenhouse air with cooler, drier external air. Ventilation also involves significant energy losses, and therefore ventilation must often be accompanied by heating. Therefore, lowering greenhouse humidity with a combination of ventilation and heating increases energy costs significantly.

Candice 
Area Sales Manager

Highlights from the Rotronic ISM 2014

A fantastic view of the Swiss mountains complimented an exciting glimpse of the future at the Rotronic International Sales Meeting 2014 in the Swiss mountain village of Grindelwald.

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The biennial Rotronic ISM brings together distributors and subsidiaries from the global Rotronic network (or family as it feels when we are all together!).

The week long meeting provides an invaluable opportunity to share experiences, projects, new ideas and product updates along with the showing off latest developments and future trends for the company. Aside from the formal workshops, training courses and meetings is the opportunity to informally explore new ventures and insights from around the world – as well as sharing a beer or two of course.

Italy and China!
Italy and China!

The growing range of new product launches from the Swiss HQ, combined with further developments from the UK’s R&D group based around the HygroGen technology highlights that the outlook for the next two years will be very interesting! (check out our new Hygrogen and AwTherm specific satellite sites www.hygrogen.com)

 

The last day of the meeting ensured everyone forgot about instruments for a while as we made our way out into the mountains. Mixed groups were pitched against each other in a fairly weird and wonderful mix of traditional team alpine games including Alphorn blowing and milk chair shuffling (best not to ask)!! Competition was tight but fun had by all.

Alpine games
Alpine games

It was all wrapped up with a fantastic outdoor bbq and the Rotronic awards – the UK team getting an award for the best CO2 product sales performance over the past two years!

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The ISM are important to maintain open communication and share knowledge. Combined with a delicate mix of hard work, fun and fantastic enthusiasm from all the those attending ensures that once again the ISM was a great success!

Team UK
Team UK

Several important announcements were made about new products and future developments including…

  • New ATEX Range (launches very soon!) 
  • Heated HygroMet Probe (now available!)
  • Two new videos coming soon (CO2 measurement and humidity overview)! 

In addition we were given a glimpse of the future… Rotronic UK unveiled the latest HygroGen2 features and the HG2’s bigger brother, the HygroGen2-XL.

New toys!
New toys!

Rotronic AG introduced a new ASIC for the Hygroclip probe range improving reliability and quality without affecting compatibility.

Beyond this there were several very exciting new product ranges on the horizon but these are still under wraps for now… watch this space 🙂

Rotronic International Sales Meeting 2014 Grindelwald Photo Gallery

Great to see everyone at the 2014 ISM in Grindelwald!

Importance of Monitoring and Controlling Temperature and Humidity in Hospitals

Control of Temperature and Humidity in Hospitals

Temperature and relative humidity affects the airborne survival of viruses, bacteria and fungi. Thus environmental control in hospitals  is important because of infectious disease transmission from the aerosol or airborne infection.

Environmental exposure is a common hazard for all such organisms (whether viruses, bacteria or fungi) during this journey between hosts. Factors such as temperature, humidity (both relative and absolute), sunlight (ultraviolet light) exposure and even atmospheric pollutants can all act to inactivate free-floating, airborne infectious organisms.

hosp

Maintaining hospital premises at a certain temperature and a certain relative humidity (%rh), likely to reduce the airborne survival and therefore transmission of influenza virus. Temperature and RH settings in different parts of a hospital differ slightly between summer and winter.  In summer, the recommended room temperatures range from 23°C-27°C in the ER (emergency room), including in-patient and out-patient areas, as well as X-ray and treatment rooms and offices. The corresponding recommended RH is fairly constant throughout the hospital, between 50- 60%rh. In winter, the recommended temperatures are generally slightly lower, ranging from 20°C in some in-patient and out-patient areas, as well as offices, up to 24°C -26°C in in-patient and out-patient areas.

 

The recommendations for the newborn baby and the hydrotherapy treatment rooms are higher at 27°C –28°C. Again, the corresponding recommended range of RH is fairly constant, but slightly lower than for summer, ranging from 40%rh -50%rh, but up to 55%rh–60%rh for more critical areas, such as operating theatres and recovery, the intensive care unit and childbirth/delivery suites.

Temperature is one of the most important factors affecting virus survival, as it can affect the state of viral proteins and the virus genome. Virus survival decreases progressively at 20.5°C –24°C then < 30°C temperatures. This relationship with temperature held throughout humidity range of 23%rh- 81%rh.

Facts & figures:
RH (expressed in percentage) describes the amount of water vapor held in the air at a specific temperature at any time, relative to the maximum amount of water vapor that air at that temperature could possibly hold.

At higher temperatures, air can hold more water vapor, and the relationship is roughly exponential—air at high temperatures can hold much more water vapor than air at lower temperatures.

virus

Why do we need to measure relative humidity?

Virus: The survival of viruses and other infectious agents depends partially on levels of RH. At a temperature of 21°C, influenza survival is lowest at a mid-range 40%rh–60%rh. It is also important to note that temperature and RH will always interact to affect the survival of airborne viruses in aerosols.

At High temperatures < 30°C and at high RH <  50%rh may reduce the survival of airborne influenza virus.

Bacteria : For bacteria, the effect of carbon monoxide (CO), enhanced the death rate at less than 25%rh, but protects the bacteria at higher RH ~ 90%rh.

Temperatures above about 24°C appear to universally decrease airborne bacterial survival.

Fungi: Ventilation systems controlling Temperature and Humidity have a significant effect on indoor levels of airborne fungi, with air-handling units reducing, but natural ventilation and fan-coil units increasing the indoor concentrations of airborne fungi.

Dehumidification as well as HEPA filtration can be used to improve indoor air quality.

Different airborne infectious agents (i.e. viruses, bacteria and fungi) will have differing conditions under which they may be optimally suppressed; it will need to be decided which airborne pathogen poses the most risk to patients and staff alike in hospitals.

Thus, in reducing infectious disease transmission specific environmental control of temperature and humidity is vital for hospitals and healthcare premises.

Rotronic can offering a complete system for hospital measurement applications: a proven system that enables healthcare facilities to control and monitor their conditions and remain in conformance with internal or regulatory guidelines.

With the combination of both analogue outputs, controlling the air-conditioning, and digital outputs, linked up to the Rotronic HW4 monitoring software, end users have a clear overview of conditions.

Dr. Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A look at the Beer Brewing Process – Just in time for the Rotronic 2014 International Sales Meeting

Beer brewing in general

There is no exact date, as to when the first beer was brewed but already at the beginning of the fifth millennium BC, people in southern Mesopotamia, in a region known as Sumer (modern Iraq), were brewing beer.

Beer, like other commodities such as wheat and other grains, was used as a currency. A clay tablet, dating from 6’000 BC contains one of the oldest known beer recipes.

Beer Map
Beer consumption throughout the world

The basic ingredients of beer are: water; a starch source: which is able to be fermented; yeast: to produce the fermentation; a flavouring such as hops. Yeast is the microorganism that is responsible for fermentation. Specifically Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the species of yeast that is used for brewing.

Facts & figures:
Beer is the third most popular beverage in the world, coming in directly behind tea and water.
American beer is made mostly from rice. This was invented to give American beer a lighter taste and tap into the market of women buyers.
In the UK 28 million pints of beer are consumed every day, which equates to 100 litres per head each year.
Belgium has over 400 different beer brands.
Cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty glass.

There are several steps in the brewing process, which include malting, milling, mashing, lautering, boiling, whirl-pooling, fermenting, conditioning, and filtering.

Step by step brewing:
  • Malting: germination of cereal grains. The sprouted cereal is then kiln dried at around 55°C. Milling: grinding of the malted cereal.
  • Mashing: the cereals are mixed with water and then heated.
  • Lautering: separation of the mash: the liquid (wort) is separated
    from the residual grains.
  • Boiling: the wort is boiled to ensure sterility and then hops are added for flavour!
  • Whirl-pooling: the wort is sent into a whirlpool, removing the dense particles using centrifugal force.
  • Fermenting: yeast is added to the wort: conversion of the carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide – the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol!
  • Conditioning: the tank is cooled and the yeast and proteins separate from the beer. This conditioning period is also a maturing period.
  • Filtering: the beer is filtered: stabilising the flavour.
  • Packaging: the beer is packed then to the customers
Example brewing process
Example brewing process
Why the need to measure the carbon dioxide?

Carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a naturally occurring chemical compound. It is a gas at standard temperature and pressure.

We inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide level in exhaled air is rather constant: around 3,8%. When carbon dioxide is exhaled it will quickly be mixed with the surrounding air even indoors and provided that the ventilation is good, the concentration will be reduced to harmless levels. Indoor carbon dioxide levels usually vary between 400 and 1’200 ppm (parts per million). Outdoor carbon dioxide levels are usually 350 – 450 ppm.

Beer brewing process: Heavily industrialised or contaminated areas may periodically have a higher concentration of CO2. Carbon dioxide is released during the beer brewing process and as you will see below, CO2 is toxic for living organisms. In brewery environments where process generated carbon dioxide is widely present, the maximum permitted carbon dioxide concentration according to most standards is as high as 5’000 ppm (5%) during an 8 hour working period.

Beer storage: Most beer leaves the brewery carbonated: beer and carbon dioxide are sealed in a container under pressure. It can be carbonated during fermentation but it can also be carbonated in the bottle. In this case the beer is allowed to ferment completely. It is left unfiltered which leaves active yeast suspended in it. A small amount of sugar is then added at bottling time. The yeast begins to act on the sugar: CO2 is released and absorbed by the beer.

Beer can also be force carbonated, in which case it is allowed to fully ferment. Then CO2 is pumped into a sealed container with the beer and absorbed by the liquid. In this case, a tank of carbon dioxide will also be required. Undetected leaks in a gas system is a costly waste and a safety risk to personnel. While small leaks are inherent in any gas system, those of significant size raise the level of economic and safety risk.

How does CO2 affect the human body?

Due to the health risks associated with carbon dioxide exposure, there are regulations and laws in place to avoid exposure! The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that carbon dioxide concentrations exceeding 4% are immediately dangerous to life and health.

In indoor spaces occupied by people: concentrations higher than 1’000 ppm will cause  discomfort in more than 20% of occupants. At 2’000 ppm, the majority of occupants will feel a significant degree of discomfort and many will develop nausea and headaches.

How CO2 affects the body
How CO2 affects the body

Case study: The lake Nyos
The lake Nyos is a crater lake situated in Cameroon. In 1986, a pocket of magma from under the lake, leaked a large amount of CO2 into the air. The result was suffocation of around 1’700 people and 3’500 livestock!

As we take beer brewing seriously we will be sure to test a number of varieties with our colleagues from the world over at the Rotronic 2014 International Sales meeting in Grindelwald next week!

Dr Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK

BlogShot – Automate your calibration with the HygroGen2’s latest features: AutoCal+ and Remote Control

The Rotronic HygroGen2 (HG2-S) is known globally an amazing piece of instrumentation. The fastest relative humidity and temperature generator to set point on the market and loved in the pharmaceutical world. The HG2-S has many advantages compared to other chambers and new developments are making the unit even better. With AutoCal+ (direct communication with an MBW/RHS 473 Chilled Mirrors) and  Remote Control (HG2-S control any web enabled device) more and more possibilities are available.

Our HQ Rotronic AG has invested into After Sales and today, like Rotronic Germany are offering more and more on-site calibration. With the HG2-S, it is possible to offer a fast and efficient calibration with direct delivery of calibration certificates and direct repairs on-site when necessary

HygroGen2
HygroGen2

 

short story is available on our Swiss HQs Blog (only in German). As seen in the photo, in order to deliver a very quick turnaround (30 probes, within 4 hours) three HG2-S units were used at fixed temperatures and relative humidity levels. Return of investment is quickly achieved with the HygroGen through the ability to provide fast, high quality calibrations. If you are interested in setting up your own on-site calibration service, let us know, we will be happy to help!

With the new AutoCal+ function and the MBW 473, you can reduce the uncertainties of your setup and with the remote function, you can multitask and work more efficiently.

All information for the HygroGen2 Humidity and Temperature Generator is available on the Rotronic website.

If you have any questions about the HygroGen2 please do not hesitate to contact us!

Dr Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK