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The goals of this program are:
1. Define technical requirements of smart materials: Identify the most promising characteristics of smart materials, for various regions in the world based on optimized crop growth, production and nutritional value.
2. Global market assessment: Different technologies will be assessed and developed in order to create technical solutions which are specific for different climate zones all over the world and different types of food production systems. For the different technologies the global market size and potential will be investigated. Future market trends and needs will be assessed.
3. Technology assessment of existing materials: Review existing materials and identify the need for adaptation for viable application in protected cultivation. Screening available materials from high-tech industry for horticultural use, technical evaluation of material properties, feasibility for horticultural use, feedback of detailed properties to individual industry partners, summary of general properties for participating consortium.
4. Adaptation of existing smart materials to innovative systems: Adapt selected materials from high-tech industry for horticultural use, test and demonstrate application of some selected smart materials separately in horticultural environment on small scale (within this project). Combine selected smart materials and demonstrate application of these high-tech materials in greenhouse production systems on larger scale (not in this project, additional public financing will be asked for that).
5. Development of new smart materials: Develop new smart materials using academic knowledge of technical universities for application in greenhouses for transfer to commercial partners.
6. Networking between high-tech and horticultural companies. Exchange of knowledge between both industries. Bring knowledge from international high-tech industry to the Dutch horticultural sector. Enable Dutch supply industry to export knowledge internationally. At the same time the visibility of the Dutch greenhouse horticulture as a high-tech production sector is enlarged. Exchange of knowledge between academic and industrial partners.
The following innovations will be the scope of new smart material development for greenhouse application:
- High transparency and insulation e.g. smart glass with new coatings, hydrophilic and self-cleaning surfaces, multi-layer plastic sheets with increased IR absorption, new bubble films, new high-performance plastic films combine high light transmission with high energy saving.
- Generation of diffuse light e.g. nanocoatings or microlenses incorporated in or on glasses, nano- and microparticles or new surface structures on plastic materials and new coatings combine wide geometrical light distribution with high light transmission. Organic based polymer materials to change their scattering properties upon exposure to specific triggers such as light or heat to accommodate local light/temperature characteristics.
- Switchable modification of the solar spectrum e.g. multi-layer plastics or liquid crystalline polymers capable of reversible reflection and transmission of incident NIR and outgoing thermal IR change energy balance of greenhouses, photochromic and/or thermochromics modify light intensity and quality depending on light or temperature levels, electrically switchable glasses modify light intensity and light scattering, light switching thin film PV, luminescent down- or up converting materials modify solar spectrum and create more light for photosynthesis, coloured temporary coatings, plastic films or screens modify light spectrum.
- Humidity control/filtering e.g. control of air humidity by new polymers or responsive organic membranes, filtering based on chemical structure, size, electrical charge by gas separating membranes, hydrogels and superabsorbent polymers control air humidity and reduce potentially evaporation.
- CO2 control/filtering e.g. control by new gas selective membranes.