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(i) Objective 1: Develop a smart, IoT based growth chamber:We will develop a lab-scale mushroom production system equipped with the required environmental sensors (temperature, humidity, CO2, and light intensity), as well as adjustable mobile device controls. The system will also be equipped with instrumentation including flow meters, electrical power meters, and a camera for human interaction and ML applications. The IoT capability will be developed using open-source tools hosted by the UH High-Performance Computing Center. Dr. Benhaddou's team will lead this objective with input from the research team and stakeholders. The developed growth chamber will then be used for growing different variety of mushrooms by varying the environmental conditions.(ii) Objective 2: Develop an automated, mechanized substrate processins system:In this objective we will develop the mechanical system necessary to process mushroom substrate in a safe and clean manner, using IoT and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), resulting in a processing system that needs minimal human involvement. This approach will reduce the labor required to prepare the substrate. Dr. Zhu will be the main developer, in collaboration with Dr. Benhaddou for IoT development. Interactions with the Dr. Balan's team for growing mushrooms are especially important as they will use the system to prepare their substrate.(iii) Objective 3: Optimize mushroom production using resource and energy calculations. In this objective Dr. Balan will lead the development of the protocols and procedures to inoculate the densified substrates (developed in Objective 2) with different grain mycelia to produce mushrooms using the newly developed IoT-based growth chamber (implemented in Objective 1). We will use the IoT infrastructure to measure the amount of energy and resources (substrate, water, and ingredients) needed to produce the mushrooms. We aim to optimize the mushroom growth cycle time, given all the constraints including cost, time in each step, and resources needed.(iv) Objective 4: Integrate the systems developed in Objectives 1-3 into three containers. To demonstrate the technology on a scale that mushroom producers will value and potentially use, the innovations developed in Objectives 1-3 will be integrated in three modular containers. Both the mechanized substrate preparation and the growth chambers will be precisely controlled using IoT-based data collection and analysis. Developing such a container-scale system will enable us to study the implications for future modular vertical mushroom cultivation and provide training to workshop participants.

Balan, V.
University of Houston
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