Project no. 124
Organic Heating Systems
E. W. D. Harris, S. F. Avalon, C. Skriver, K. E. Gielov and R. M. Martinsen
1DTU Process and Innovation, Technical University of Denmark
Greenhouses have long been a staple of modern agriculture. In the northern hemisphere
they have become a necessary tool with which farmers can supply people with foods that
would otherwise be impossible to grow due to the nature of the harsh northern climates. As
one could imagine, the main challenges in running these greenhouses are that of
maintaining the right temperatures for agricultural efficacy.
ORGANIC HEATING SYSTEMS
Organic Heating Systems aim is to introduce the Danish greenhouse industry to the
potentials of static pile compost heat recovery systems. We are five DTU students with a
desire to develop innovative technologies and implement them in a sustainable context. We
are in the midsts of developing an alternative heating system to the current oil and gas
burning furnaces that are the norm among the Danish greenhouses. The system we are
developing is called KOVAS.
The main focus of our development strategy is twofold. First of all, this system will be easy
to implement in existing greenhouse heating systems and will be able to piggyback off of the
water heating pipes that are currently used as the main heat exchangers. Secondly, this
system could potentially save money, in that the system is dependent on compost, so the
farmers won’t have to spend money on fuel for their furnaces. The compost used to heat the
system will be supplied by the customers and the Danish municipalities. According to the
Danish newspaper Ingeniøren, many municipalities have a hard time effectively disposing of
their organic waste. Our system seeks to help create a symbiotic relationship in which the
municipalities gets a solution to their excessive organic waste problem, and the
greenhouses save money on their heating solutions.
The heating system consists of a 40’(40 feet or 12,2 m) shipping container as our main
framework to facilitate the composting process.
As it stands, the average Danish greenhouse spends around 320 kWh a year on heating just
1 m² of the greenhouse. Our main customer base would be greenhouses of around 200 m².
To heat a greenhouse of this size would cost 60.584 DKK a year in oil. Not only that, but this
would require 5.882 L of oil (diesel in most cases), which would produce approximately
15.293 kg of carbon dioxide emissions. The greenhouse gas production in composting is
comparatively negligible, and we could therefore potentially save a minimum of 15 tonnes of
carbon emissions per greenhouse that we supply heat to.
We have read a variety of research papers on the subject as well as conducted a series of
interviews with Danish greenhouses and a consulting firm that specializes in heating
solutions. We have determined that the customer base is there, as long as there is money to
save and a decrease in the greenhouses carbon footprint. We believe that we can provide
that solution and that the market is ripe for an innovative and effective solution to