Use of Cold and Condensation


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Using the properties of cold water and condensation for irrigation without consuming water.

Sustainable Communities/ZERI-NM (SCZ), along with several other collaborators, is working to move forward on demonstration projects that will conserve water using cold water and condensation for agriculture irrigation that does not consume the water but "borrows" it for its cold and condensation properties to the crop roots and returns it to its source undiminished in quantity or quality.

Trudy Healy and John Craven at our welcoming dinner for Dr. Craven. We thank the Healy Foundation for supporting Dr. Craven's visit to New Mexico.

The group at right visited a site being run by the non profit, Indio-Hispano Academy.
Left to right: Sally Rodgers with NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources; Sterling Grogan, with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District; Cecilia Abeyta with the NM Farm and Livestock Bureau; Lynda Taylor of SCZ; Dr. John Craven of CHC's Cold Ag section; Felix Torres, Head of the Indio-Hispano Academy; Jerry Chavez, Academy Board President and Mayordomo (the title for the people in charge of the traditional Hispanic acequias, ditches, that govern water use and distribution during the agriculture season in New Mexico).

Dr. John Craven was in New Mexico in September '04 to look at and evaluate potential pilots, including one in Taos and the South Valley, with another being considered for the southern part of the state. Dr. Craven is the expert who developed the Cold Ag technique on the arid side of Hawaii's Kona Island using ocean water. This work is described at and has been shown on the Discovery Channel.

This process was discussed in March during a Governor Richardson sponsored ZERI workshop for his state agencies on innovative ways to address some of the state's pressing issues such as water. It was among the recommendations to the Governor for a water conservation pilot project. At 80 years old, Dr. Craven has a long history and unique background.

With a Ph.D. in ocean engineering, Dr. Craven served as a troubleshooting scientist/technologist with the United States Navy (USN) before retiring to Hawaii as dean of marine programs at the University of Hawaii and marine affairs coordinator of the State of Hawaii. In the latter capacity he was instrumental in the establishment of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA), the initiation of Mini-OTEC, and the development and initial operation of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory.

In 1991, Dr. Craven founded the private company, Common Heritage Corporation (CHC), for the purpose of developing environmentally sustainable ocean resources for the benefit of the Common Heritage. Here he developed the idea of using the cold temperature of deep ocean water pipes to create a healthy soil environment suitable for countless plant species to grow and thrive in the harshest of tropical, coastal conditions. The cooled soil creates a constant springtime condition, promoting vigorous growth of plants from virtually any climate zone. This CHC innovation allows for soil temperature control and plant dormancy, enabling multiple crop production per year. And it requires little, if any, additional irrigation, as the cold pipes spawn abundant freshwater condensation. We have all seen beads of water on the outside of a glass of ice water.

Felix Torres, Cecilia Abeyta, and Dr. Craven look over a potential pilot site at the Indio-Hispano Academy.

In New Mexico, we hope to demonstrate the uses of snow-melt river water, other river water that is sufficiently cool, and water wells in producing the necessary "cold" temperature and condensation to the roots of crops to stimulate growth with little or no water consumption. The water would be passed through plastic pipes laid underground at root level. A thermal gradient between root and fruit is produced which help crop cells to "pump" nutrients into the plant at a rate which is perhaps three times greater than that produced by nature in spring or fall. The pipes also create freshwater condensation for irrigation without using any of the river water inside the pipes. That water is returned to the source.

In the CHC garden, more than 200 fruits, vegetables and herbs, along with fruit trees and vines, have successfully responded to this technique. All have rapid growth, high yield with high sugar and aromatic content with low to zero direct water consumption. New Mexico, as a semi arid state with limited water supplies, needs a new approach like this to overcome water shortages especially in its recent state of drought.

Future Projects

ZERI International Projects

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Sustainable Communities/ZERI-NM
P. O. Box 8017,
Santa Fe, NM 87504 USA
Phone: 505-820-0186
FAX: 505-986-6019

Sustainable Communities/ZERI-NM is a public 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

This page was last updated on March 14, 2005

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Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs are © 2001-2004 Lynda Taylor.