Sample Materials Project Proposals

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High R-Value Energy Curtain for Solar Greenhouse


We are in the middle of constructing a solar-retrofitted greenhouse at the farm site. This project was designed and supported by a previous ENGS 190 course in the fall of 2006. This building design project was an attempt to greatly increase the growing season provided by an enclosed space (greenhouse) while minimizing fossil fuel inputs. This greenhouse is currently under construction and is expected to be enclosed by the end of fall, 2007.

One of the most significant systems called for in the 190 design for the solar retrofit of the existing greenhouse structure was the design, creation and installation of a high-R energy curtain to conserve and retain the heat stored in the thermal mass and growing soils during cold nights. It is the combination of the thermal mass and the energy-conservation systems that will allow this solar heated greenhouse to provide a functional growing space for up to 10 months of the year, without the addition of any fossil-fuel heat. Thus, the creation and installation of a functional and durable energy curtain with a high R-value will be essential for a successful building retrofit.


The aim of this project is to design and install a movable insulation system that will allow the solar greenhouse to have soil temperatures remain above 32 degrees F for at least 10 months of the year, in Hanover, New Hampshire. This task can be achieved by successfully fulfilling two main goals. First, extensive research will need to be done into the current commercial offerings for movable insulation. This will provide important background for the current state of the industry and identify any possible system or systems that might be of use. A complete evaluation of the current need, including structural and space limitations, environmental challenges inherent in greenhouse spaces and a review of the previous 190 design that established a minimum R value for the energy curtain will all be necessary to effectively evaluate the design parameters. Second, appropriate materials and installation systems will be required to solve the problem once it has been described. This will likely entail significant work with insulating materials, protective covers, infrared reflective materials and various support and storage techniques that may be of use in the final design.


It is expected that this design process will supply a complete design, including cost estimates, an installation plan and thorough parts list. It is also expected that a working iteration of this movable insulation system will be installed in the greenhouse by the end of the winter term of 2008.

Required Facilities

Access to the solar greenhouse is available at the farm, just 3 miles north of campus.

Knowledge Areas Needed for Project

Proprietary Information and Confidentiality Requirements


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