Lubrication-free tribo-polymers making agriculture sustainable

According to the United Nations, the world population
will grow to 9.7 billion by 2050. In particular, the population of the cities
will increase significantly. Vertical farming is considered a promising
alternative to conventional methods to produce food for the growing number of
urban dwellers, reliably and cost-effectively. In these vertical farms, motion
plastics from igus already play a major role in their cost-efficient and
reliable operation.

With 7.7 billion people currently living on earth and
the world population continuously increasing, the production of food has become
a growing challenge. Added to this is progressing urbanisation: more than half
of the world’s population already live in cities and metropolitan regions.
However, conventional farming is only possible to a limited extent as
agricultural land becomes scarce. Food must therefore be transported to urban
centres from distant regions.

Vertical farming, which involves producing food on different
levels in enclosed buildings, is one solution – the objective being to reduce
production costs, transportation costs and resulting CO2 emissions. At the same
time, the vertical arrangement of production utilises small spaces in urban
areas ideally in order to generate the greatest possible agricultural yield
from a small surface area.

High-performance
polymers display their strengths

The machinery used in vertical farming works in a
highly sensitive environment. igus motion plastics from Treotham are ideal for
use in this type of food production by ensuring freedom from maintenance and
trouble-free operation within a vertical farm. Due to the lubrication-free
feature, FDA compliance and highest hygiene standards, plants, vegetables and
fruit are not contaminated. In addition, the tribo-polymers are corrosion-free
and low-maintenance as well as resistant to dirt, dust and soil. There is also
great potential in autonomously operating, fully automated vertical farms. Low cost
automation systems enable cost-effective vertical planting, harvesting or
packaging throughout the year, along with a quick return on investment.

Vertical
farming

US company Living Greens Farm is known for its
vertical farms in converted vacant skyscrapers. These cultivation techniques
require special machinery for nutrient supply and irrigation of the plants. A
patented traverse system equipped with igus energy chains carries enriched water
directly to the plant roots. In an empty warehouse in Minneapolis, about 4,000
square metres of space are used in this way to yield the same quantity of food
produced from more than 40 hectares of conventional agriculture.

Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) also uses igus
motion plastics for automation in vertical farming. One of the goals of the
company, Growth Towers, is to make vertical farming more economical by
improving productivity, yield, quality and consistency, and by drastically
reducing electricity and labour costs. The vertically arranged IGS systems must
be reliable, yet low-friction and easy to maintain. The drylin linear guide
systems meet all requirements and ensure trouble-free operation of the system.
A year after installation of the lubrication-free components, no noticeable
wear of the bearing shell could be detected at inspection.

For more information, please visit the Treotham
Automation website www.treotham.com.au
or call 1300 65 75 64.

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