The Bubble Greenhouse Collaboration for Community Development and Food Security

Lay Summary 

The Bubble Greenhouse Collaboration for Community Development and Food Security is a partnership between Dr. Kevin Pope, Assistant Professor, MUN Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and Common Ground Community Development Corporation (CDC), funded Memorial's Public Engagement Accelerator Fund.

Common Ground CDC supports, promotes and implements sustainable community development initiatives in Newfoundland and Labrador, with a focus on sustainable local agriculture and food security. CDC is designing a 30' x 60' Liquid Foam Insulated (LFI) 'bubble greenhouse', the first of its kind in this province. Bubble greenhouses use soap bubbles injected between two layers of plastic to provide winter insulation and summer shade, enabling environmentally-sustainable and cost-effective year-round food production in northern climates.

The greenhouse will operate:
-As a pilot site for the study and improvement of bubble greenhouse technology for local climate conditions;
-As a demonstration site to promote this technology to local farmers and growers;
-And as a social enterprise that will grow fresh produce for sale in order to support greenhouse operations, outreach activities and other community projects.

The current collaboration involves Common Ground CDC and Memorial University exchanging knowledge and skills to conduct thermodynamic analysis of this innovative, sustainable greenhouse design.

Engineering co-op student Sean Power was hired to conduct thermal modelling of Common Ground
CDC's proposed greenhouse design under the joint supervision of Dr. Pope and Mr. Stephen Topping, Head of Design for the project. Mr. Power conducted the following analyses:
-A thermodynamic analysis of the insulating properties of different foam solutions;
-A thermal modeling of the heat storage capacity of greenhouse structures, with particular focus on local climate conditions;
A thermodynamic analysis of environment conditions, thermal losses, insulation properties, and thermal energy storage.

The subsequent results of these analyses have provided a better understanding of the thermodynamics and thermal effectiveness of the greenhouse design. Based on the findings, the greenhouse design team is currently making revisions to the current design plans. Construction of the greenhouse is planned for the spring/fall of 2017.

Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science
Public Engagement Accelerator Fund
St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Food Security
Industry Sectors 
Crop Production
Start date 
22 Feb 2016
End date 
22 Apr 2016