11. Applications and Implications

What is Hydroponics?

Plants grow through a process called photosynthesis, in which they use sunlight and a chemical inside their leaves called chlorophyll to convert carbon dioxide (a gas in the air) and water into glucose (a type of sugar) and oxygen. Write that out chemically and you get this equation:

6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2

There’s no mention of “soil” anywhere in there—and that’s all the proof you need that plants can grow without it. What they do need is water and nutrients, both easily obtained from soil. But if they can get these things somewhere else—say, by standing with their roots in a nutrient-rich solution—they can do without soil altogether. That’s the basic principle behind hydroponics. In theory, the word “hydroponics” means growing plants in water (from two Greek words meaning “water” and “toil”), but because you can grow plants without actually standing them in water, most people define the word to mean growing plants without using soil. NASA also considered Hydroponics as a viable method to grow and provide food for astronauts on Mars.

Hydroponics vs. Aquaponics vs. Aeroponics

Three distinct systems in the niche of alternative growing systems. What differentiates these three systems from one another?

  • Hydroponics: The plant’s roots are ‘submerged’ in a continuous flow of nutrient-based water. With hydroponics, you manually provide the nutrients into the system.

  • Aeroponics: The plant roots hang in the air & a sprinkler system sprays them with nutrient-based water rather than it being submerged.

  • Aquaponics: The plant’s roots are the same as the hydroponics example. The only difference with aquaponics is how the plant nutrients are created. With aquaponics you have a fish tank connected to the plants and the fish wastes are the nutrient source.

Feasibility Study my Project

What Will It Do?

Fish and plants, these two components interact through the aqueous medium that circulates between them. The water that contains fish droppings provides the plants with the nutrients needed for their growth. In return, the plants absorb the excess nitrogen and provide the purified water back to the tank.

The system is the following, I used several sensors and I tried to control the system automatically and also shows the sensor readings on the LCD screen.

The ultrasound will read the height of the water in the aquarium, if it’s less than the required rate, we will hear the alert. To spray the plants, the pump will turn on automatically only when the humidity is less than the rate in the plant’s environment. The grow light will turn on and off depending on the lighting read from the light sensor

Who Has Done What Beforehand?

The earliest published work on growing terrestrial plants without soil was the 1627 book Sylva Sylvarum or ‘A Natural History’ by Francis Bacon. Water culture became a popular research technique after that.

Before starting the project, I spent time researching and looking at people’s projects and farms, I saw many of them with different and creative designs inside and outside the home, as well as there are many sites that explain the steps of the system’s work. But the different thing that I did is that the system has become almost complete. Supplying the plant with water and light is automatic, and there is no need to stay close pretext of watering the plants or turning on the light. The only thing I have to do is to add water if it decrease and feeds the fish. As well as for the project to be at a low cost.

What Will You Design?

Types of alternative growing systems can vary in their complexity, type of filtration, and other elements.

My project includes an Aquaponics system that moves water from the basin, which is pumped through small tubes into the plants, rather than submerging the roots in the water.

What Materials and Components Will Be Used?

  1. Fish Tank
    • Fish Tank
    • Air Pump (O2)
    • Fish
    • Fish feed
    • Aquarium filter
    • Submersible Pump

  2. For Plants
    • Sponge “Grow bed”
    • plants or plants seeds
    • Grown lights
    • Hydroponics net pot
    • Tube adapter
    • Tube Elbows


  1. Input Sensors
    • Humidity of Soil
    • Water Level “HC-SR04 Ultrasonic”
    • Light Sensor

  2. Output
    • LCD screen
    • Two Relay
    • Speaker

Where Will They Come From?

In FabِAcademy, the project should incorporate most the following: - 2D and 3D design
- additive and subtractive fabrication processes
- electronics design and production
- microcontroller interfacing and programming
- system integration and packaging
- Where possible, you should make rather than buy the parts of your project
- Need to show individual mastery of the skills, and be independently operable

I will work on the parts that I can make in Fablab, but the rest will be bought it.

  • 3D design to the CNC and Hydroponics net pot.
  • 2D design to cut Acrylic to complete the CNC, also to cut a sticker.
  • PCB to control the system .

How Much Will They Cost?

  • $07.96 Fish Tank
  • $10.51 Aquarium Air Pump
  • $02.50 Bubble Stone Aerator
  • $02.00 per Fish
  • $03.97 Fish feed
  • $10.00 Aquarium filter
  • $15.00 Submersible Pump
  • $01.17 Sponge “Grow bed”
  • $05.31 plants or plants seeds
  • $12.00 Grown lights
  • $02.00 Tube adapter
  • $01.00 Tube Control Valve

I will try to do what I can in Fablab to avoid purchase and costs.

What Parts and Systems Will Be Made?

  • Lumber
  • Hydroponics net pot
  • PCB

What Processes Will Be Used?

  • 2D design - Vinyl Cutting and Laser Cutting
  • 3D design - CNC and 3D Printing
  • Electronics design, milling, soldering, programming for these:
    Input Sensors
    • Humidity of Soil
    • Water Level “HC-SR04 Ultrasonic”
    • Light Sensor
    • LCD screen
    • Two Relay
    • Speaker

Also . . a Real Time Clock

What Questions Need To Be Answered?

  • Will I be able to control the pump in my small PCB?

How Will It Be Evaluated?

To determine where we need to develop, we must first know What are the disadvantages or what is miss the system?

I will seek to devise a method to put the nutrient solution in the water. After I started making it, I will identify weaknesses and seek to develop them.

Useful Tips

  • An air pump with an air stone connected by flexible tubing can help increase circulation and keep your nutrient solution oxygenated.
  • If your plant doesn’t look healthy, either discolored or distorted, then the first thing you should check and adjust is the pH; If you determine that the pH is not the problem then flush your system with a solution like Clearex but make sure if it’s suitable for fish.
  • Flush, clean, and sterilize your entire system after you finish a growing cycle.