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Desert greenhouse will mimic nature

February 29, 2012 by  

DOHA, Qatar, Feb. 29 (UPI) — A $5.3 million desert greenhouse in Qatar will imitate nature to extract salt from seawater and create conditions ripe for plant growth, project planners say.

The Sahara Forest Project, to be built just outside Doha, will work by exploiting the difference in temperature between surface seawater and water taken from hundreds of yards below the sea’s surface.

Both will be pumped to the site using solar power through separate pipes.

The hot desert air will evaporate the surface sea water and the moist air will pass over the plants, creating a comfortable temperature around them. The moisture will condense as it passes pipes through which the cold deep seawater is pumped, creating fresh water, reported Wednesday.

The design is inspired by the way a camel’s nostrils evaporate and condense moisture to keep it cool, and by the way fog-basking beetles can capture water from warm night air in the desert, Sahara Forest Project’s Michael Pawlyn, a biomimicry architect, said.

The saltwater will also be used to grow algae, which will be used in biomass production at the facility set to be built by the end of this year.

Spencer Cameron

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