In order to keep the supply of food steady for the generations to come, researchers are looking at different ways to grow crops. One way of doing this, is by growing food in a multi-layered growing platform, called vertical farms or plant factories. As these vertical farms grow food in a confined way, accurate control of the climate around the plants is essential. In order to better understand how a plant interacts with its local climate, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) can be used to simulate plant behavior inside a virtual growing zone. The more accurate the plant is modelled, the better airflows around the plants can be tuned. In order to validate this, an experimental set-up has been constructed in a greenhouse at the Coupure.
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) can be used to describe the flow of air around a leaf and in its broader picture a plant. Many previous studies have modelled a plant indirectly as a porous medium and have omitted plant structure. Plants transpire through microscopic small stomata, and it is not fully clear how this microscopic transpiration can be translated to leaves and a full plant. In this thesis, a plant structure will be explicitly used to study the flow around the plant. Local heat and mass transfer coefficients will have to be added to the leaf’s surface to accurately mimic the plant’s behavior.
Calibration and validation of the CFD results will be possible, by using data obtained at the test set-up at the campus Coupure. It is possible to gather own validation data for the CFD simulations. CFD results may be directly linked to functional structural plant models (FSPMs), developed by the bio-engineers at campus Coupure.
This thesis aids in achieving sustainable development goals (SDG) 2 and 7:
By growing food in greenhouses or vertical farms, food can be grown everywhere on the planet in a more sustainable way, limiting the resources needed for agriculture.