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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Desert Greenhouse

The Sea Water Greenhouse

Qatar is considering introducing the innovative sea water greenhouse into its deserts: a desert greenhouse which utilizes sea and sun to provide a green alternative to desert farming. 

The Sea Water Greenhouse utilises, as is suggested by the name, sea water to cool greenhouses. In contrast to traditional desalination projects, which are both energy heavy and consume fossil fuels, the Desert Greenhouse uses the sun to distil the sea water. More sea water is used to cool the Greenhouse, resulting in a temperature 15 degrees lower than outside the Greenhouse. Meanwhile, a specially constructed roof allows light to pass though while removing much of the heat. The resulting rather steamy athmosphere - the greenhouse operates at around 90 % humidity has proved an excellent environment for growing plants. In the case of Qatar, solar power will be used to pump the water from the sea. 

This could have huge benefits for Qatar. In addition to the obvious benefits of increasing food self-sufficency and decreasing the use of water, there are environmental benefits. Seeping of water in test greenhouses in Tenerife helped previously damaged and arid areas to resume plant growth. And, of course, the reduced desalination needs will mean more fuel for Qatar's most beloved possession, their Landcruisers.

Diagram illustratiting how the greenhouse works