Innovation

Renewable energy technology inspires Tasmanian tomato business

A tomato farm in Tasmania's north-west is turning to India's latest technology in renewable energy to reduce its power bills and improve yields.
Renewable energy technology inspires Tasmanian tomato business

The Brandsema’s at Turners Beach plan to install a biomass gasifier to power its greenhouses.

The gasification system, built in India, turns agricultural or forest waste into energy and as a by-product, creates CO2 for plants.

Grower Marcus Brandsema recently travelled to India.He met with manufacturers and engineers to watch the biomass plants in action.

"What happens is the organic material goes into a gasifier," he said."It’s operating at a reasonably high temperature, around 800 degrees Celsius or thereabouts, in a reduced oxygen atmosphere.

"The organic material doesn’t actually burn, but it oxidises and gives off a gas which is useful to use downstream.Once the gas is produced we can then use it to fire a boiler to create hot water, which is what we need, especially in Tassie’, to grow tomatoes.

"They clean it and use it in an engine, which can drive a generator, or a pump, or alternatively the gas can be used as fuel source." Brandsema is particularly attracted to the system’s ability to generate additional CO2 for the greenhouse to enhance photosynthesis.

"Once the gas is produced we can then use it to fire a boiler to create hot water, which is what we need, especially in Tassie’, to grow tomatoes," he said."But the by-product of that is CO2, which would normally go up the flue as an emission, we could extract from the flue and introduce it into the greenhouse."

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