Recently an old Meat processing factory located in Chicago was subject to a mind boggling transformation. It has been converted to a self-sustaining food farm with its own in-built energy supply. To become self-sufficient in energy generation the 93000 sq. feet farm uses the approximately 27 tons of bio waste generated in its landfills & passes them through an anaerobic digester machine. This is turn generates heat, steam & 400KwH of electricity daily. The heat is sufficient for the factory’s brewery. The steam powers the heating & cooling systems of the building. It’s a classic example of a Net-Zero Energy System where the building doesn’t generate any carbon emission & it’s effective energy consumption is nil.
The efficient aquaponic system is used to grow plants in water instead of the commonly used method to incubate them in soil. The water where the plants are grown also houses a colony of fish. Ammonia & nitrates produced by the plants are used by the plants as fertilizer to grow faster & this has the effect of purifying the water for the fish population. The oxygen produced by the plants is utilized by the brewery which in turn generates carbon dioxide which is again inhaled by the plants. Thus we can see an amazing self-contained cycle to produce various food products where each & every byproduct is recycled.
Additionally the grains discarded by the brewery are used as fodder to feed the fishes, whose waste in turn is used to fertilize the mushrooms. The plant is a classic validation of the saying that “Please do not waste your waste”.
This project has considerably helped the local community & has generated about 130 jobs for them. This scheme has been partially financed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to the tune of 1.5 million USD. In a world increasingly being depleted of natural resources, the New Chicago Beer Company offers a model template in energy conservation & organic food production.