Beacon Tech Net, of Murrells Inlet, S.C., is attempting to determine how much the dry mass of plants, namely the CX-1 sweet potato, will increase with various levels of CO2. Ultimately, Beacon Tech Net hopes to use CO2 pulled from the emissions of a fossil fuel-burning power plant as a fertilizer to enhance the dry mass of crops. A grant from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, through the support of the South Carolina Renewable Energy Infrastructure Fund, enables this research.

In 2008, a 40% increase in dry mass of the CX-1 sweet potato occurred with 3,000 parts per million, verses ambient air of approximately 380 parts per million. Dr. Janice Ryan-Bohac, on a farm in Smoaks, S.C., is breeding the CX-1 sweet potato specifically for the production of ethanol.

In 2009, Vaisala GMM222 CO2 Sensors were installed to monitor CO2 levels at the project. George Fryer, CEO and president of Beacon Tech Net, indicated that they are able to monitor these levels from their company office in Murrells Inlet even though the project is located 150 miles away.

The project was expanded in 2009 to include an open field section. The purpose of the open field concept in comparison with the greenhouse approach is to find a lower-cost alternative to simulate the conditions that would occur if CO2 were pulled from the emissions of a fossil-fuel-burning power plant and pumped into fields of sweet potatoes.

Remotely monitored simulation 

The farm features diesel generators that pump CO2 through pipes in various locations throughout the field. The pipes emit CO2 among the growing sweet potatoes. A NexSens CO2 monitoring system was set up to monitor the CO2 levels at select locations.

The real-time system helps to determine the effects of the increased carbon dioxide levels to the plant yield. The system consists of multiple Vaisala GMM222 carbon dioxide sensors wired to NexSens A50 junction boxes deployed around the farm.

The junction boxes lead back to four iSIC-OEM data loggers located in a nearby building. The data loggers transmit sensor readings via a RS-232 cable to a nearby computer running NexSens iChart software. iChart automatically posts the CO2 levels in real time to the NexSens WQData web datacenter, which allows Beacon Tech Net engineers to monitor CO2 levels from any Internet-connected device.



X2 Environmental Data Logger

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NexSens WQData LIVE Web Datacenter

WQData LIVE is a web-based project management service that allows users 24/7 instant access to data collected from remote telemetry systems.