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Plant factory technology to shine at LED trade show

2012/06/16 21:50:50

Taipei, June 16 (CNA) LED-lit plant factories will feature prominently at this year's LED Lighting Taiwan exposition, as manufacturers seek to carve out new territory beyond the traditional uses for LEDs, organizers said Saturday.

The so-called plant factories are highly controlled, sterile gardens for growing vegetables without soil or sunlight.

At the center of the trade show will be such a zone showcasing new technologies used in the growing of plants in an environment in which lighting, temperature, humidity, water and carbon dioxide are controlled to ensure stable production in an era in which erratic climate patterns and industrial pollution have brought food shortages and safety to the fore.

Among the latest technologies on display will be sunlight-simulating LEDs and an LED-lit plant warehouse developed by a local manufacturer in which vegetables high in nutrients and low in bacteria and nitrates can be grown in an environment uncontaminated by dirt and insects.

Plant factories have been developed in Japan, the United States and the Netherlands, and the global market is expected to reach US$72 billion this year, according to the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

The factories are also in development in Taiwan, in the agriculture and industrial sectors as well as academia.

The technologies involved are used by local farmers to grow butterfly orchids and mushrooms, while technology firms such as Hon Hai Group and Inventec Corp. having also been tapping the technologies.

In January this year, the ITRI proposed the formation of a group combining Taiwan's technological expertise and advanced cultivation technologies to form a vertical supply chain to tap the market for high-end produce such as groupers and asparagus.

The trade show, featuring 235 businesses, will run June 19-21 in Taipei.

(By Han Ting-ting and Scully Hsiao)