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GreenTechLab Venlo studies innovation challenges in the field

How do you create the ideal growing formula for cultivation without daylight? What is necessary to make logistics in a warehouse more efficient, and can you make the automation of insect breeding smarter? Located at Brightlands in Venlo, the GreenTechLab takes on these technical issues entrepreneurs face and comes up with solutions.

The GreenTechLab is the research and technology group of Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Venlo. Led by a team of researchers and engineers, students and researchers work together at this lab to develop smart and sustainable solutions to technical problems companies and institutions face. Professor Daniel Rateike has been involved with the GreenTechLab since its inception in 2014. “We look for answers by focusing on mechatronics: software, electronics, and mechanics or a combination of these. We naturally also examine whether this is a fit for current trends and emerging technologies.”

Developing the Mini-BrightBox
A mechatronics student at Fontys, 22-year-old Jannes Laemers, is working on a miniature version of BrightBox through the lab. Located at Brightlands in Venlo, the original BrightBox is a climate room measuring around 300 m2 where several layers of crops are cultivated without daylight. Jannes is conducting research to develop a small version of this BrightBox, which can be used to perform tests and create the ideal growing conditions for vegetables, plants, and herbs. “It’s actually a giant refrigerator with lighting, climate control, room for plants, an irrigation system, and so on. I’m now researching the ideal LED lighting and cultivation methods for this mini-BrightBox.”

Light formula
He has already designed the cooling element for the mini BrightBox, the lighting system is in the works, and he is now testing the camera to monitor the planting surface area. “If you cultivate crops in an enclosed space, you have to take many different factors into account. LED, for example, is pretty hot, so you need to make sure you have good cooling in place. The light formula is also important because each plant has its own preference. We need lamps with a broad light spectrum so that we can create the ideal light formula for each plant. It’s a really interesting assignment because it brings together a variety of different technologies.”


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