Jellyfish Barge: the modular floating greenhouse will save us

Jellyfish Barge: the modular floating greenhouse will save us it has been modified: 2014-12-01 di anna rarely

On Friday 31 October Stefano Mancuso, director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology of the University of Florence, presented the prototype of Barge jellyfish.

Born from an idea of ​​Antonio Girardi and Cristiana Favretto (Studiomobile), thanks also to the sponsorship of Veneto Vetro, it is now and floats on the Navicelli canal between Pisa and Livorno.

The module in May will officially loaned to Expo 2015 and later became one of the flagship products of the nascent innovative start-up PNAT Srl

Jellyfish Barge is a floating agricultural greenhouse, able to purify brackish or polluted water using solar energy. It was designed in a relatively small size to be able to support two families, and be easy to build, even in difficult economic conditions. However, it is modular, whereby a single element is completely autonomous, while several barges side by side create a stronger and more resistant organism.


On a planet where resources are increasingly scarce, how will the food that communities need be produced, where will we find the necessary water and where will we find new areas for cultivation?

A multidisciplinary team of architects and botanists proposes a revolutionary answer to these questions. Jellyfish Barge is a floating agricultural greenhouse that produces food without consuming land, fresh water and energy. Designed to vulnerable communities to the scarcity of water and food, the structure is built with simple technology and recycled materials and low cost.

Jellyfish Barge is a multidisciplinary project coordinated by Professor Stefano Mancuso of the University of Florence, director of the International Laboratory of Neurobiology Plant (LINV and designed by the architects Cristiana Favretto and Antonio Girardi (Studiomobile

The working prototype, made from LINV (University of Florence) thanks to the glasses of Veneto glass and the contribution of the Fondazione Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and the Tuscany region, is installed in Navicelli channel, between Pisa and Livorno and inaugurated Friday October 31 2014 at the headquarters of Navicelli Spa, via the dock 3, Pisa.


The reference scenario

The World Bank estimates for 2050 a nearby planet's population to 10 billion people and a consequent global demand for food increased by 60-70% compared to today. Be able to meet this growing need in a reasonable food, without unduly affecting the existing resources at the moment seems to be a goal difficult to achieve, mainly because of the scarcity of water and land available for cultivation. Much of the potentially arable land is concentrated in a few geographical areas, while many nations of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, high population growth, have already reached or are close to reaching the limits of the availability of agricultural land.

Agriculture, using the 70% of the fresh water on the planet, is the human activity that weighs more on existing water resources. In many areas of the world such as India, Pakistan and in southern Spain, the increasing demand for water for agricultural purposes is satisfied extraction from underground reservoirs, consumed at a faster pace than the rainfall they return.

In many areas of the Middle East, instead, the water is obtained by energy-hungry industrial desalination processes. The scarcity of water and land available for agriculture is likely to be increased by climate change.

The rising sea level, for example, contribute to flooding with salt water bands to ever greater numbers of fertile land. This phenomenon has already begun to occur with alarming frequency all over the Bay of Bengal.

The project

Jellyfish Barge is a modular built greenhouse on floating platform able to provide water and food security by providing food and water without impacting on existing resources. The structure, constructed with low cost materials, assembled with simple and easily realizable technologies, is composed of a wooden base of about 70 m² that floats on the recycled plastic drums, and by a glass greenhouse supported by a wooden structure .

Fresh water is supplied by solar desalination plants arranged around the perimeter, designed by environmental scientist Paul Franceschetti. These are able to produce up to 150 liters per day of fresh, clean water from salt water, brackish or polluted. Solar distillation is a natural phenomenon: in the seas, the sun's energy evaporates water, which then falls as rain water. Jellyfish Barge in the replication desalination system this natural phenomenon in small-scale, sucking moist air and condense into making the contact drums with the cold surface of the sea.

The low energy required to operate the fans and pumps is provided by systems that use renewable energies, integrated into the structure. The greenhouse incorporates an innovative hydroponic growing system.

Hydroponics is an above ground cultivation technique that guarantees water savings of up to 70% compared to traditional cultures, thanks to the continuous reuse of water. In addition, Jellyfish Barge uses approximately 15% seawater which is mixed with distilled water, ensuring even greater water efficiency. The complex functioning of the cultivation system is guaranteed by an automation system with remote monitoring and control.

Jellyfish Barge was designed to support about two families, therefore it is specially small in size to make its construction simple and feasible even in conditions of economic hardship. It is modular, so a single element is completely autonomous, while several greenhouses side by side can guarantee food safety for an entire community. The octagonal shape of the platform allows different modules to be placed side by side by connecting them with simple floating bases with a square base, which can become markets and meeting places for a small community on the water.



The team

Jellyfish Barge will be produced by PNAT Ltd. (, a spin-off of the University of Florence. The team is composed of the director of LINV Stefano Mancuso, by researchers Camilla Pandolfi, Azzarello Elisa, Elisa Masi and architects Cristiana Favretto and Antonio Girardi, founders of Studiomobile. PNAT is the first think tank born in Italy where they interface design, science and biology to study creative and technological solutions to the issues left over from sustainability: in a planet with finite resources, how to ensure food security, water accessibility and the resilience of communities to environmental changes?

coordination: Prof. Stefano Mancuso
Crops: Camilla Pandolfi, Azzarello and Elisa Elisa Masi
Project: Cristiana Favretto and Antonio Girardi
With the contribution of: Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and Regione Toscana, Venetian Glass for the supply of glass
Information: - -

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