A Simplified Design Process for Thermal Supplementation of a Medium Sized Aquaponics System to Ensure Sustainability


  • C.A. Van Beukering
  • P.E. Hertzog
  • A.J. Swart




Growing climate change awareness incentivizes establishment and implementation of efficient alternative food production methodologies such as aquaponics, with potentially high yield versus reduced footprint, urban implementation and local food security and employment. Viably maintaining such systems during freezing winter climate necessitates thermal supplementation to maintain biological viability of the fish stock and bio-filter micro-organisms. The purpose of this study is to present a simplified baseline approach for determining thermal supplementation for establishing sustainability of a medium sized aquaponics system. An existing aquaponics system is examined and described through historical temperature data, system thermal interaction via mass-flow loop energy transfer and a physical layout. Applicable historical measurements for initial supplementation determination are be listed. The chosen solar supplementation source is discussed in terms of cost and energy input. Further examination of study data informs system energy interaction and system micro-biota viability. The presented method results in an inter-cold-front positive system temperature recovery slope of 0.278˚C per day and an extrapolated temperature buffer recovery in 15 days, validating the viability of the method as presented. The value of adopting this method lies in promoting aquaponics system adoption by simplifying system-viability supplementation estimation where direct grid energy unit-cost comparison allows for informed decisions. Adopting the method for the Bloemfontein area, or locations with similar climate, is thus recommended.