Nemo’s Garden was founded in 2021 by Sergio GamberiniPresident of Italian diving equipment manufacturer Ocean Reef Group, and his son, Luke Gamberini. Their team of engineers, divers and scientists have worked to prove the feasibility of growing herbs, fruits and vegetables underwater. Nemo’s Garden’s key innovation, an underwater biosphere, is a unique type of underwater greenhouse capable of utilizing the ocean’s beneficial environmental factors – temperature stability, evaporative water generation, CO2 Absorption, the abundance of oxygen and inherent protection from pests – to create an ideal environment for growing plants.
Not only did the team successfully harvest a variety of crops from their prototype biospheres, but they also discovered that plants grown in this environment are more nutrient dense than those grown traditionally. The next big hurdle in reaching their goal was turning this prototype into a solution that could be deployed globally; However, they did not want to wait another 10 years to achieve this.
Harsh winters, short summers and initial restrictions on seabed use limited Nemo’s Garden to one growth cycle per year, which means only one innovation cycle per year. Design changes, lengthy physical testing, and extensive manual monitoring processes throughout the growth cycle prompted the Nemo’s Garden team to look for ways to accelerate its innovation and scale operations. The team turned to TekSea’s Matteo Cavalleroni to learn how they could use cutting-edge technologies to achieve their goals. After the initial consultation, Siemens was invited to join the project and use the Xcelerator portfolio of software and its services to help Nemo’s Garden reach the next phase of development and prepare for industrialization/commodification.
“When I first saw Siemens’ digital twin technology, I was fascinated. Nemo’s Garden is a unique system and we will have to adapt to each environment in which to install it. If you can model that environment virtually before you start, you can anticipate the challenges and the best way to address them,” he said Luke Gamberini, co-founder of Nemo’s Garden. “We have seen benefits in understanding the flow of water around the shapes of our biospheres. We have a better understanding of the stress points in the structure around the biospheres. We also understand how the various interactions of solar radiation, temperature and all physical factors affect plants. All thanks to the digital twin’s ability to replicate our system.”
A comprehensive digital twin of the Nemo’s Garden biosphere has been created, including not only design development using Siemens NX™ software, but also enabling simulation of the growing conditions within it and the impact of the equipment on the body of water and the overall environment in which it is grown installed – all with Siemens Simcenter™ STAR-CCM+™ software. The Nemo’s Garden team is no longer constrained by weather conditions, seasonality and short growing seasons, or limitations in diving and monitoring. Adaptations to the biospheres can be tested in the virtual world, allowing the team to refine the design at a massive rate.
surveillance at the edge
In addition to constructing the physical biosphere, Nemo’s Garden also needed to optimize and scale the processes for growing, tracking, and harvesting the plants. To create a sustainable business that does not rely on sending trained divers to collect data, a fully digital, automated approach was developed, drawing on Siemens’ extensive experience in using software to automate traditional farming practices .
Existing video of the growth cycles along with reference data from traditional farms of the same target crops at different growth stages and health conditions were analyzed using Siemens’ MindSphere® service. From this, Siemens was able to train a machine learning algorithm to monitor plant growth and environmental conditions inside the domes.
When this algorithm is deployed in each biosphere on Siemens Industrial Edge computing devices, crops can be monitored in real-time from anywhere throughout the season via a cloud-based dashboard. Next season, these Industrial Edge devices will be connected to actuators – to automatically adjust airflow, humidity, watering and nutrient dosing throughout the season. This will form the basis of a global farming service optimized for subsea operations and tuned to each of the world’s oceans.
By truly embracing digital transformation, Nemo’s Garden has taken what started as a lighthearted challenge over dinner with friends and transformed this unique concept into a commercially viable underwater farming platform that can be deployed sustainably worldwide. Although the newly designed biospheres will not be deployed until the next growing season, thanks to the comprehensive digital twin of the growing environment, the team is moving forward with plans to further optimize their designs and automate their processes for global deployment.
“Digitization is not only for big companies, but for all companies. In fact, large profits can often be made in smaller or start-up companies. The work we do with startups can amplify the impact they are having on the world and help foster and accelerate innovation,” said Eryn Devola, Vice President of Sustainability, Siemens Digital Industries Software. “It’s easy to get excited when we find a passionate team with human-centric technology working to feed people while making a positive impact on the environment.”
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SOURCE Siemens Digital Industries Software