“The Nexus Project”
NEXUS a multidisciplinary team whose research lies at the intersection of agriculture, energy, and natural resources. NEXUS is developing inexpensive and efficient biomass greenhouse-heating technologies that provide an affordable and sustainable means to improve the food-growing capacities and the standard of living for farmer communities in rural Appalachia while reducing the use of fossil fuels. This is done by using on-farm biomass resources/wastes such as wood chips, manures, and agricultural waste to produce energy through small-scale systems including pyrolysis (biochar), anaerobic digestion, and compost heating. These systems produce soil amendment co-products that become valuable farm inputs to build soil. Application of passive and active solar systems and thermal storage complement these greenhouse-heating systems.
Heated greenhouses extend the growing season, which increases the availability of local food throughout the year, expands available markets, and increases farmers’ profits. This research serves our community by enhancing access to fresh local produce, farmers by increasing their income throughout the year, and the local environment by conserving fossil-fuel energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions normally associated with greenhouse heating and transportation of non-local produce.
The Nexus team maintains and operates the “Nexus” research facility at the Watauga County landfill site and works with area farmers on design and implementation of greenhouse heating systems.