The LivelyUp soap bubble greenhouse uses a dynamic foam insulation and shading system for a cold-climate permaculture solar greenhouse in McDonalds Corners, Ontario, growing organic produce year-round without fossil fuels. The world’s first successful hoophouse prototype was constructed by Ross & Kathryn Elliott of Homesol Building Solutions on Sept. 11, 2001, and operated continuously for over 5 years, to as low as -39C. The current 2,000 SF double-layer commercial greenhouse uses 30” – 60” of liquid bubbles, integrated with “Flying Concrete” end walls and rainwater collection for automatic drip irrigation of the compost / soil raised beds. A solar chimney provides no-power summer ventilation, with heat-recovery air exchange in winter. Future PV solar modules will make this growing environment self-sustaining, resilient, and net-zero energy.

Ross was involved in the construction of a “sola roof” bubble glazing research facility for Richard Nelson in 1985 in Montreal, based on previous work including an expired patent by Swedish inventor Zelon (US No. 3672184, June, 1972) for insulating shop windows with soap bubble foam. Professor John Groh at University of Arizona measured R3 per inch for soap bubble greenhouse insulation in 1968, while AHRAE research by Shamim & McDonald in 1995 measured R1 per inch. In 1995, Bill Sturm built a 12,000 SF tomato greenhouse with a soap bubble insulated roof in Calgary, Alberta and measured an 84% energy savings at -20 F. Research in 2006 by Ruth and Andy Lera in the Yukon demonstrated the economic superiority of this technology for northern climates. Freezing (liquid phase change) enhances thermal performance, overheating is eliminated, and natural lighting is unaffected, ensuring optimal year-round plant growth.

A presentation by Ross Elliott at the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in Victoria, BC on August 23, 2002 put this technology firmly into the public domain, and all materials and equipment needed to build your own are available off-the-shelf. DIY plans, foam concentrate & bubble greenhouse design consulting are available from Homesol.

Transforming Northern Greenhouses

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