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Direct use of geothermal resources for circular food production
* 1 , 2
1  Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, Hjardarhaga 2-6, IS-107 Reykjavik Iceland
2  Faculty of Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Iceland, Hjardarhaga 2-6, IS-107 Reykjavik Iceland


The objectives of the work are to increase the direct use of geothermal resources for circular food production systems. The focus is on circular agricultural production processes: combining recirculating aquaculture systems and hydroponics into one system, including water treatment and waste recovery processes. The main outputs are vegetables, fish, fertilizers and potentially, algae and biogas. These outputs can generate revenue streams that can cover the costs of heat extraction while supporting viable businesses. The results and conclusions from a pilot case that was conducted in Iceland in recent years are presented, and the next steps are discussed. The pilot setup is now in the process of expansion to a semi-commercial production unit. However, there are still scientific, technical and commercial challenges to be solved. The scientific challenges are interdisciplinary and relate mainly to the optimization of the overall production system. Optimization involves creating good environmental conditions for each production unit while maintaining optimal oxygen, carbon dioxide, relevant pH and temperature levels and supplying all necessary nutrients. Additionally, accumulation of salts or other unwanted substances must be prevented. The primary technical challenges are to develop the circular food production system for optimized production while controlling the expenditure of energy, water, nutrients and manpower resources. Optimization also involves careful choices of species and the integration of new ideas into the value chain, both of which increase the synergy between the different components of the system. Furthermore, energy efficiency needs to be improved through using excess heat for other parts of the system and developing enhanced heating and cooling cycles. The aim is to transform the semi-commercial unit into a showcase model for solving commercial challenges while presenting a feasible business model for installing and operating a geothermal well for circular food production, making the most use of all available resources, securing optimum production conditions and minimizing waste.

Keywords: Direct use, geothermal; aquaculture, hydroponics, aquaponics, feasibility