Detroit – NextEnergy and RecoveryPark have announced Light-Speed USA as the winner of NextChallenge: Lighting, a lighting technology competition. Light-Speed USA was awarded $80,000 in cash and in-kind services to support the development and demonstration of a next generation LED horticultural lighting technology system for RecoveryPark's greenhouse operations.
“NextEnergy developed NextChallenge: Lighting to source ideas to drive technology innovation and economic development but this challenge has actually resulted in so much more,” said Jean Redfield, president and CEO of NextEnergy. “The Light-Speed approach is unique because multiple organizations teamed up for a great solution. We’re proud that our lighting challenge is leading to new partnerships and innovative technology solutions that will spur industry growth.”
The Light-Speed USA technology solution combines specialties of three Michigan entities – LumenFlow’s advanced photonic LED and optical engineering technologies, AMF Nano’s specialty control sensor system, and Nextek Power Systems’ direct current (DC) distribution system for a cost-effective, energy efficient, reconfigurable LED horticultural lighting system that optimizes plant growth and adapts to various environmental conditions throughout the year in greenhouses at RecoveryPark Farms in Detroit.
“There is huge restaurant demand for local produce grown-to-order,” said Gary Wozniak, president and CEO of RecoveryPark. “The challenge was to figure out the best way to mimic Mother Nature by creating an affordable solution to replicate the amount of natural sunlight produced during the peak growing season so we can support the demand for the best produce year-round.”
Research has shown that plant species respond to wavelengths along the light spectrum differently throughout their growth cycle. LumenFlow’s LED horticultural lighting solution will allow for precise tuning of LED lights to the preferred spectrum settings by species and growth stages of plants grown at RecoveryPark Farms. LumenFlow will custom design lights per plant species to optimize plant sizes and yield as well as increase harvesting cycles and improve plant quality in color, taste and nutrients.
AMF Nano will adapt its nano sensor technology to sense humidity, water flow, temperature, fertilization levels and photosynthesis levels. The sensors will provide real-time data to the LED lights directing them to provide light only when it is needed, ensuring plant health and growth optimization.
Nextek Power Systems, a pioneer in energy efficient DC power distribution and energy management for buildings, will implement their DC distribution systems for RecoveryPark greenhouse operations. Nextek’s system will increase the profitability of RecoveryPark Farms by taking full advantage of the LEDs and advanced power distribution to keep the greenhouses as affordable and energy efficient as possible.
While each piece of the Light-Speed USA solution are proven individually, the integration of the technologies and collaborated concept needs to be developed.
“Light-Speed USA is designing and engineering this new greenhouse lighting system and we’ll be working to help RecoveryPark demonstrate and validate it in a real world setting,” said Redfield. “The timeline is not yet finalized, but we’re hoping to start the demonstrations as early as September.”
Demonstrations of the new technology are planned to be deployed, benchmarked and evaluated at Recovery Park Farms’ urban farming operations in Detroit.
RecoveryPark is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Established in 2010, its mission is to create jobs for individuals with barriers to employment. RecoveryPark coordinates three years of personal and workforce-development support services by connecting employees with partner organizations throughout the city to ensure they have access to adequate housing, life and job coaches, educational opportunities, and mental and physical health services. For more information, visit recoverypark.org.
About RecoveryPark Farms
RecoveryPark Farms is a social enterprise growing local specialty produce for Metro Detroit restaurants. RecoveryPark launched RecoveryPark Farms to create full-time sustainable employment opportunities, with benefits and wrap-around support services, for individuals facing barriers to employment. Recovery Park Farms currently provides specialty produce to 12 metro Detroit restaurants. For more information, visit recoveryparkfarms.com.
Founded in 2002 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, NextEnergy is one of the nation’s leading accelerators of advanced energy technologies, businesses and industries. NextEnergy drives technology demonstration and commercialization; delivers industry and venture development services; and provides an authoritative voice in the public sector. Since its inception, NextEnergy has helped attract more than $1.4 billion of new investment in the state of Michigan, including programs in excess of $160 million in which NextEnergy has directly participated.
Contact:Amanda Roraff, Director, Marketing & Communications - NextEnergy
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