Positive Effects of Carbon Dioxide for Plant Growth

Many articles have been written about the negative effects of carbon dioxide. Sick Building Syndrome, loss of concentration due to high levels of carbon dioxide, asphyxiation in breweries or wine cellars, all these things spring to mind when we hear the magic phrase carbon dioxide. Yet, perhaps today when Venus passes across the face of the Sun, we should remember that our original atmosphere consisted of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Free oxygen is something that is not really chemically possible. Yet we have it as a result of plant life busily photosynthesising and converting carbon dioxide into oxygen during daylight hours. This is the original use of solar energy!

Plants require carbon dioxide to grow and why not help them by increasing the level of carbon dioxide? Normally, this is something that is undesirable, since carbon dioxide is the original greenhouse gas, as our neighbouring planet Venus can testify. But in a controlled, genuine greenhouse environment, there is no real reason why the level of carbon dioxide should not be enhanced in some way.

Indeed, tests have shown that increasing the level of carbon dioxide in a greenhouse to 550 ppm will accelerate plant growth by 30 - 40 %. The natural level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is around 450 ppm, having increased from about 250 ppm in the last ice-age, so this slight increase may not appear significant at first sight. The point of the matter is that the level of carbon dioxide in the average greenhouse with the ventilation system closed will drop sharply due to uptake by the plants and will lie around 150 - 200 ppm if nothing is done about it. In summer the ventilation system will be open and the fresh air circulation will augment the level to a useful degree. But what about those long, cold, dark northern winters? Most commercial greenhouses will have lighting and heating systems to encourage plant growth, but you still cannot open the ventilation and allow the cold outside air into your heated greenhouse without losing all the early crops. The only real solution is to augment the natural level of carbon dioxide in some way. Where it is used, the general rule of thumb is to augment by about 1000 ppm when the sun is shining (or all the lights are on!) and keep the level around 400 ppm during times of darkness. This will require monitoring, since there are so many variable factors involved and a simple control unit using an infrared sensor will be able to keep the concentration of gas constant at all times.

Rate of consumption varies with crop, light intensity, temperature, stage of crop development and nutrient level. An average consumption level is estimated to be between 0.12 - 0.24 kg/hr/100 m2 of greenhouse floor area. The higher rate reflects the typical usage for sunny days and a fully-grown crop. This equates to roughly 150 litres of carbon dioxide per hour.

There are many processes that naturally and unavoidably produce carbon dioxide: Fermentation and combustion are two classic examples. In temperate zones it is necessary to heat a greenhouse (glasshouse is just another word for the same thing), and this heating will almost always involve the burning of fossil fuels, producing carbon dioxide. This leads to the natural urge to re-circulate the exhaust gas from the heating system into the greenhouse and so achieve a double advantage for the plants. This will require careful monitoring of the flue gas to ensure that there are at the most only traces of carbon monoxide being passed into the greenhouse. This is not only bad for the plants but also potentially lethal to the people working there! Such technology is available with gas monitors that will measure the carbon monoxide concentration continuously and have analogue outputs that can be used to regulate the burners or operate a trip to switch the unit off should problems occur. The combination of breweries with greenhouse systems is also serious business in some areas. Generally, these methods are to be approved and should really be worthy of government support. Not only are they producing crops, they are removing a pollutant that would otherwise be vented into the atmosphere.

Monitoring of the added carbon dioxide is essential, however, since high concnetrations of carbon dioxide can lead to dizziness or even unconciousness of the personnel. Some plants will require higher levels of nutrients to compensate for some of the changes that occur. Particularly tomatoes and violets are sensitive to increased levels of carbon dioxide, hence the need for constant monitoring of the ambient concentration.

Simon Fowler studied Mechanical Enineering at City University in London, UK and now works in Vienna, Austria for madur electronics, a manufacturer of infrared sensors. http://www.madur.com/

In The News:


Newsweek

Top Science Breakthroughs of 2014: Rosetta Tops Science Magazine's List
Newsweek
Science magazine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) named the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission as the scientific breakthrough of the year on Thursday. “It was a genuine first in planetary science, and that ...
2014 science breakthroughs: no more ageing, cave art and landing on a cometThe Guardian
Science dubs Rosetta breakthrough of year: Space sweeps 2014 science storiesChristian Science Monitor
'Science' declares breakthroughs of the yearABC Action News
The Independent
all 177 news articles »

BBC News

Antarctic photo science archive unlocked
BBC News
Aerial photos from the 1940s and 1950s are being used to probe the climate history of the Antarctic Peninsula. UK scientists are comparing the images with newly acquired data sets to assess the changes that have occurred in some of the region's 400 ...

and more »

NBCNews.com

Year in Science: Amphipolis Mysteries and Other Riddles Revealed
NBCNews.com
DNA alphabet gets more letters: The genetic code in our DNA is built up using four chemical "letters" — adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine (A, T, G and C) — but this year, scientists added two more letters (X and Y) to the alphabet in a ...

and more »

Slate Magazine (blog)

When Science and Anti-Science Collide
Slate Magazine (blog)
The picture is titled “Actresses with a passion for science” and shows five such women: Hedy Lamarr, Lisa Kudrow, Mayim Bialik, Natalie Portman, and Danica McKellar. I know how important it is to have good role models for kids and how girls need more ...


Forensic Science Is Not CSI, in Ferguson or Anywhere Else
Huffington Post
However, the depiction on television of forensic experts doing 100% accurate science is about as realistic as their delivering snappy one-liners. Scientific methods have the potential for error, both flawed science and human error (or humans just plain ...


Pacific Standard

How Scientists Contribute to Bad Science Reporting
Pacific Standard
Scientists tend to think that the media coverage of science is terrible, and they blame it on the journalists. They routinely back up their opinion by telling stories of failed encounters with reporters. One of my colleagues once spent more than 30 ...


Forbes

Science in the spotlight as New York state bans fracking
Science AAAS
It is “a great example of science trumping politics,” Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C., told ScienceInsider. Cuomo “took the right step in looking at the ...
Cuomo's Defense Of Anti-Science Fracking Ban: 'I'm Not A Scientist'Forbes
Editorial: Junk science led to Cuomo's New York fracking banNew York Daily News
Is New York governor's ban on fracking grounded in science? (+video)Christian Science Monitor
Huffington Post -Grist -New York Magazine
all 1,248 news articles »

St. George Daily Spectrum

SWATC awarded $434000 for Computer Science Program
St. George Daily Spectrum
CEDAR CITY – Southwest Applied Technology College, along with four other Southern Utah organizations, has been awarded $434,000 by the Science Technology Engineering and Math Action Center of Utah to bolster their computer science programs and ...


Chalkbeat New York

In science class, award-winning New Dorp teacher turns students into investigators
Chalkbeat New York
So now, Kutza, who was one of seven city educators this year to win a $5,000 Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics, has her freshmen handle real oysters and debate the best way to contain Ebola. In her neuroscience class, ...


WRAL.com

Science Proves That Hugs Can Boost Your Immune System
Huffington Post
We know that hugs make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. And this feeling, it turns out, could actually ward off stress and protect the immune system, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University. It's a well-known fact that stress can weaken ...
Science, cats agree: Cuddles are good for youWRAL.com
Science Shows That Hugging to Say Hello Might Help You Stay HealthyMic

all 90 news articles »
Google News

Mini UAV and MAV Power Plants

A set up of harnessed Lithium Polymer Cells can be... Read More

Shooting Down a UAV in Flight

Shooting Down an Enemy UAV so it cannot give away... Read More

Smart Dust and Virtual Keyboards

Using Smart Dust which is sprinkled onto a rock it... Read More

Down Scrolling Text to Find Patterns

I believe a program can be written to scan text... Read More

Tsunami Defined

Tsunami is a Japanese term that describes a large seismically... Read More

Cloaking a UAV in Flight

If you will recall the Klingon Space Craft and Warship... Read More

DNA Testing Breaks Down Barriers in the Court Room

DNA testing has three major applications for forensic studies: identification... Read More

Re-Designing the ICBM With The Latest and Greatest Technology

We propose a Stealth Aircraft or non-stealth composite aircraft to... Read More

Submarine Propulsion and Internet web sources

Let us discuss the patent for the Submarine, which is... Read More

Why Can?t Our Brain Process What We See Faster?

Many who admire the excellent design of Mother Nature and... Read More

Electromagnetic Energy in Meteorites - Theory

I have some friends who have the largest private meteor... Read More

Creating Artificial Time in a Vacuum With Pulsed Lasers

Keying off a very interesting concept confined within Static Quantum... Read More

Can Rain Makers Really Make Rain?

Whenever there's a drought, someone will come up with the... Read More

Increasing Human Brain Power, Concept

Is it possible to increase the human brainpower? Not just... Read More

UAV Mini - Torpedo Bombers for Eliminating Hydro Cushioned Water Craft

UAVs can carry cargo, some of the very tiny UAV... Read More

Using High Altitude Blimp Cell Phone Communication

By allowing high altitude Satellite Type Balloons or Blimps with... Read More

Feb. 12 is Darwin Day -- Secular Americans Celebrate Bday of Evolution Champ

This Feb. 12 marks the 196th anniversary of Charles Darwin's... Read More

Acoustic Transducers for High Altitude Balloon Control

Using acoustic transducers it maybe possible to create a small... Read More

Bi-Location

BI-LOCATION (PADRE PIO & PYTHAGORAS): - I have some experience... Read More

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Mudslides: Extreme Events - What Do They Mean?

In lieu of recent, tumultuous occurrences, people are more compelled... Read More

Locusts To Help Make Energy From Bio Waste, part IV

We are in a Plague year 2004-2005 where the locusts... Read More

The Impact of Efficient Epistemologies on Algorithms

In recent years, much research has been devoted to the... Read More

Reverse Osmosis and Deionized Water Filtration

Let's face it if you are in a business needing... Read More

DNA Profiling: Its Uses In Court

DNA Profiling and Its Uses in CourtStronger evidence in courtrooms-it's... Read More

Laser Ionization Airflow Tunnel Flight Theory

I believe their is a way to have an on... Read More