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insulating with bubbles  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Jami McBride
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So he used soap?  If so those bubbles will break in no time.

It is a shame he doesn't speak or add any information, like where he got the idea and what he is hoping it will achieve or how well it works.
 
Max Kennedy
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This technique is quite well known here in Canada.  it is basically soap bubbles.  The bubblemaker puts out a very small bubble which lasts a couple of hours.  The bubblemaker is on a timer to replenish the bubbles during the night and be off during the day to allow light in.  The bubble generators are fairly expensive but can save a lot in heating costs.  a home made version might use lots of aquarium aerators.
 
                            
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that's quite amazing,  I noticed it was 3 yrs old and wondered about now.
So they are used mainly for green houses in Canada also?  I was thinking maybe since it was soap it would still let enough light in, but you say they are turned off in the day, I wonder how much the temperature drops?
 
Travis Philp
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Its a great idea. Not to be a downer but the cost for the bubble maker is up in the thousands. One source said it was about 18 grand for an 18×24 greenhouse. You'd need to be growing some 'high' priced crops to make that a viable option IMO.

There's gotta be some way to do a cheap DIY bubble maker...
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Travis Philp wrote:There's gotta be some way to do a cheap DIY bubble maker...


It might be fun to collaborate with some of the online techies at a site like Hack a Day. They might be happy to hear about a hacking opportunity that's both useful, and moderately challenging.

It also might be the kind of tinkering that the Open Source Ecology project would be interested in pursuing once they're on their feet. Mikey over at Holy Scrap Hot Springs might be able to take on the challenge sooner, but he seems less of a mechanical guy from what I've read, and is in a climate that doesn't need foam-filled greenhouses.
 
Max Kennedy
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Travis Philp wrote:
There's gotta be some way to do a cheap DIY bubble maker...


The people would probably share the bubble solution formula then my 1st try would be an air compressor and industrial sized aquarium aeration stone.  For controls a led light on the outside and a light detector on the inside near the top, bubbles will slide down to fill space as they burst so the top will thin first, Light reaches a certain level and turns the system on.  A timer to allow dissipation during the day.

During the day the sun heats the greenhouse to growing temperatures so the loss of heat then isn't a huge concern unless you are trying to harvest the heat for the home.  Even then the gain due to transparency is greater than the loss as the bubble reflect much of the light away.  Keeping the bubbles all day would sort of be like the scheme for automated ships to vaporize ocean water creating clouds that reflect sunlight back out to space.  As noted in the article they could be used in the summer for a cooling effect.

http://www.eta.co.uk/cloud_making_ship_fights_global_warming/node/11030
 
Galen Johnson
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I have seen this basic idea before.  At that time, it was done with styrofoam pellets that were blown between glass windows at night.  They sealed in the heat of the day.  It was not very effective.  Movable insulative panels are effective, but they require placing and taking down, and storage space, too.

There is a professor who has kept a soap bubble alive and well for over twenty years in a glass jar.  What some people will do for fun!
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Here are two sets of plans for a DIY foam machine. (Via Hack A Day, which I linked to above).

The guy who authored the plans (and sold a few units on eBay) has this to say:

Costs about $400 to make. Will take a few weekends and some experimenting to get it working.


Downloads

It looks like a very simple device: spray diluted bubble bath onto a screen, and force air through that screen. The $400 was all brand-new equipment and materials.
 
Rob Alexander
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Amazing, bleeding edge, but truly practical?

I wonder about the eventual scum buildup, and maintenance of a very complicated setup.
If you were going  to invest in a system like this (say $400 for the machine alone, plus the additional structure and layer to the greenhouse), wouldn't using an insulating sheet in/over the greenhouse serve a similar purpose for far less money and materials?
 
Max Kennedy
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For small greenhouses yes but the larger they get the larger and more expensive the sheet is and it quickly becomes more expensive.
 
Wyatt Smith
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You know what would be awesome.  Two mobile high tunnels of different size.  In extreme conditions like the Canadian winter, you could use the bubble insulation.  At warmer times you could separate the tunnels and rinse them off. 

I bet you could improvise a bubble maker out of any air blowing device.  If the bubbles last well under plastic it wouldn't be too expensive in terms of energy consumption.
 
Max Kennedy
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Mangudai wrote:
You know what would be awesome.  Two mobile high tunnels of different size.  In extreme conditions like the Canadian winter, you could use the bubble insulation.  At warmer times you could separate the tunnels and rinse them off. 

I bet you could improvise a bubble maker out of any air blowing device.  If the bubbles last well under plastic it wouldn't be too expensive in terms of energy consumption.


Interesting idea.  put one on rails/wheels so it pulls out in summer and nests in winter.
 
                        
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No idea of the exact date but this has been around for several years  and may be the original one. http://www.tdc.ca/bubblegreenhouse.htm
 
kent smith
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decades ago I saw the use of blowing shredded styro foam into spaces between two windows for night time insulation. the same blower could blow the poly styrene beads into the space went needed or vacuum them out of the space when the sun was out to heat the interior. The biggest problem was that the static electricity make the Styrofoam want to stick to the windows. always thought it was great way to use recycled packing foam.
kent
 
josh brill
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I got pretty far along in designing a farm scale production greenhouse using a bubble insulation layer and decided it wasn't worth the effort in its current state.
Its a pretty specific bubble that you need.  Its not a foam its a dryer larger bubble that is needed.  There are a couple of examples that actually have been able to generate bubbles but by in large most peoples projects putter out.  For someone who is worried about production aka a farmer the technology is not nearly bullet proof enough to justify building one of these guys.  There is rumbling about a greenhouse manufacturing company building a kit that you could order.  The bubble generator is not to tough to build but the bubble formula is tricky.  The guy from canada use to sell some stuff that a phd. had figured out for him but he has stopped. 
Its also tricky to get the timing right for bubble regeneration cycle.  The uk greenhouse that is most often shown didnt actually work the thermal mass of the water inside the greenhouse plus some other factors kept the greenhouse warm for the short time it was running.  The other one in canada does seem to work, but his generates cost more that a couple thousand i believe. 
Growing things in high tunnels with row covers with appropriate vegetables seems to be a much simpler and more practical use of space but thats just the conclusion i have come to.
 
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