Italian design office Studiomobile has teamed up with the University of Florence's Professor Stefano Mancuso, who is the director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, to produce a prototype floating greenhouse in a bid to improve food security in areas with little arable land. The Jellyfish Barge operates off-grid and produces its own clean water via an onboard system of solar distillation.
The Jellyfish Barge comprises a glass greenhouse supported by a wooden base, which measures 70 sq m (753 sq ft). It's buoyant thanks to 96 recycled plastic drums affixed underneath, and is modular, so can also be attached to any number of other Jellyfish Barge units.
The greenhouse can pump up the water it floats upon for irrigation, whether that happens to be river water, saltwater, or even polluted water. The water is made suitable for irrigation by treating it with seven onboard solar stills.
"Solar distillation is a natural phenomenon: in the seas, the sun's energy evaporates water, which then falls as rain water," explains Studiomobile. "In Jellyfish Barge the solar desalination system replicates this phenomenon in small-scale, sucking moist air and forcing it to condense into drums in contact with the cold surface of the sea. The low energy required to power fans and pumps is provided by systems exploiting renewable energy integrated in the structure."
There's also a rainwater catchment system on board and Studiomobile says the Jellyfish Barge is capable of producing up to 150 liters (39 US gallons) of fresh water per day in total.
The Jellyfish Barge features a hydroponic system too, that Studiomobile says is very efficient and can save up to 70 percent more water than standard hydroponic systems. This system can use around 15 percent seawater in order to boost efficiency. An automated system provides remote monitoring and control over the hydroponics.
Studiomobile reports that a single Jellyfish Barge unit is capable of producing enough food to support two families. It's still early days for the prototype yet though, and a company rep told Gizmag that the firm now aims to focus on optimization of the system and lowering build costs.