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Our colleagues are also dedicated to modern methods in food production at the Institute of Instrumentation and Control Engineering of Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. One of the research activities is the optimization of the algorithm for hydroponic cultivation with the Ebb and Flow system. In this system, plants are placed in tubs into which nutrient solution is filled at intervals for a defined period of time and then drained again.

In the context of hydroponic plant growing, colleagues use the Urbanio 3×1 GreeenTech hydroponic system with Siemens control system. The plants are not planted in soil and receive their nutrition from the nutrient solution. Its composition can be mixed very precisely according to the needs of the plant.

The control system is comprised by following parts:

•             PLC Simatic S7 – 1200

pH and EC control (electrical conductivity is an indicator of the concentration of the nutrient solution)
Controlling the filling and draining of growing tanks
Ventilation control
Monitoring of ambient air parameters

•             Distributed I/O ET200 SP with DALI module
Control the light spectrum via DALI bus to be optimal for plant growth

•              MTP 700 Operator panel
HMI for system control

•             IPC NanoBox
Monitoring, visualisation, dataloging, SCADA

Students are also involved in this research and can test their theoretical knowledge of automation and process control in practice.

Martin Zmeškal is one of them, he prepared his bachelor's thesis "Design and development of a control system for a hydroponic growing module". The aim of this thesis was to analyse and formulate all system requirements based on the hardware specifications and plant needs. Subsequently, the student worked on the implementation of these requirements in the design of the control system using programmable elements.

Another graduate thesis on this device was done by Hannes Haag, who will soon defend it at the Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm. The control system is currently running on his code and he also created the main HMI. At the same time, he is also working at Siemens.

Adam Samuel will also defend his thesis at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen in the summer of 2024. His thesis deals with the creation of program blocks for system control, using "set curve" and he has also participated in the development of HMI. Adam is already working for Siemens.

And the most important person is Ing. Tomáš Svoboda from Siemens, who was the main initiator of the whole project and secured the donation of the Urbanio 3×1 GreeenTech hydroponic system from Siemens to Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of Czech Technical University in Prague. He was also behind the design and development of the control hardware, also provided by Siemens.