Geothermal energy applications
iiDEA is an applied research group focusing on the field of geothermal energy applications, developing technology for agriculture, fishing, home heating, and food industry applications.
LOW ENTHALPY GEOTHERMAL GREENHOUSE
Due to the growth of population and food demand, the evolution of farming techniques has caused a higher harvesting rate, benefiting from greenhouse building plans, obtaining a more secured and controlled manner of farming. Their translucent film, made of either glass or plastic, controls the amount of light that crosses the boundaries, keeps the right indoors temperature conditions, and protects the plants from bad weather conditions; for instance, wind, snow, sleet or radiation. The main purpose of greenhouses is to mimic suitable weather conditions that favors the optimal growth demands during off-season cropping, yielding a higher production comparing to conventional sown fields.
iiDEA is designing a greenhouse building which recovers the energy stored under the subsoil located in Mexicali, Baja California. This site offers a vast amount of geothermal fields due to its proximity to San Andreas Fault. The project uses low enthalpy geothermal energy for cooling, heating, and irrigation applications, obtaining the suitable indoors sown conditions.
Mexico offers a great variety of habitats, flora, fauna, and ecosystems encouraging farming activities along its territory. According to SAGARPA (Federal Secretariat of Agriculture in Mexico) in 2011 Mexico was the most important global producer of avocado, lime, watermelon, mango, guava, cucumber, chili and tomato. Mexico exports first class tomato to countries such as Canada, USA, and Netherlands, being Sinaloa the main exporter State of tomato (30.2%), followed by Baja California (15.8), Jalisco (8.2%), Puebla (7.5%), and Baja California Sur (6.7%), respectively. This represents a profit of 1.7 billion dollars approximately.
GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMPS IN MEXICAN LOCATIONS
There are certain regions in Mexico in which weather conditions are extreme; for example, during winter, ice conditions are provoked by low temperatures, meanwhile unbearable hot temperatures are presented in summer, affecting not only people who live in those places, but their activities and their way of life. Heating systems offer an alternative to change this scenario, however, the amount of electric energy required significantly increases the prices to cover its demand. Therefore, geothermal heat pumps represent an alternative sustainable option due to their versatility to work as heating or cooling system. Their practicability and low price compared to conventional systems make them a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option. This HVAC equipment not only has home and industrial applications, but also produces hot water for houses, offices, hotels, airports, subway stations, workshops, schools, hospitals, recreational centers, etc. Some of the advantages of using this technology comprises the avoiding of electricity rates fluctuation provoked by instabilities in the fossil fuels market, resulting in energy and economic savings up to 75%, and low environmental impacts by producing zero emissions into the atmosphere.
MILK POWDER PRODUCTION USING GEOTHERMAL ENERGY.
Technical-economic and environmental feasibility studies of milk powder production process, specifically during its pasteurization phase, were presented by iiDEA.
In order to make a comparison between production costs by using geothermal energy instead of natural gas (common fuel used in this industry), energy requirements were analyzed and considered as important parameters. With all data collected data and subsequently processed the conclusions of this work show that net profit is $76,884 Mexican Pesos.
As it can be seen, the use of geothermal energy has a very positive impact on industrial applications, optimizing natural resources, and mitigating the effects of ecosystems overexploitation and detriment involved in the production processes, therefore guarantying their sustainability.