Cornell AES Growth Chamber Prototypes


Highly Efficient Growth Chambers Designed by Cornell AES

Cornell’s 125 plant growth chambers managed by Cornell AES provide protected environments for smart, innovative research. They offer finely tuned light, temperature, and – in some cases – humidity and carbon dioxide controls. But creating the exacting and reproducible conditions needed for some research can be energy intensive.

Cornell AES has designed a new generation of high-performing and easy-to-maintain growth chambers, with a much smaller carbon footprint.

Cornell AES Growth Chambers Outperform Conventional Models

Two growth chamber prototypes, developed and built by growth chamber staff at Cornell AES, cut cost and energy consumption significantly compared to traditionally-manufactured chambers of the same size. The outstanding versatility, precision and reliability of the prototypes creates a superior environment to enable valuable research.

The carefully streamlined engineering and design of the chambers drastically increases reliability and durability, and reduces expected maintenance costs. Automated controls provide climate control and remote alarm capabilities, while holding chamber temperatures to tight tolerances.

Advantages include:

  • Substantial savings to construct vs. purchasing a comparable unit
  • Extremely precise temperature controls, to within less than a 10th of a degree Celsius
  • Straightforward design built with high-quality parts
  • Accessible mechanical systems and less overall maintenance
  • Shared parts across all chamber sizes allows for having a very small parts inventory on hand
  • Chambers run much quieter, reducing the typical high noise level of chamber rooms
  • Significant energy savings (up to 85%)
  • Larger chambers offer ultrasonic humidification
  • Most chambers will not need refrigerants, eliminating the potential for leaks of environmentally damaging CFCs

Growth Chamber Prototype Sizes

The same streamlined, reliable Growth Chamber technology will be available in four different chamber sizes to meet the needs of most researchers:

  • Cornell AES Reach-in chamber, 10-square-foot capacity: this original prototype was built in 2014, and has been running flawlessly ever since. It has one growing level, with an adjustable shelf. This chamber taps into the building’s hot and cold water supplies. It sips only the amount of hot and cold water needed to precisely regulate the chamber temperature, eliminating the need for heating and refrigeration units. It uses 85% less electricity, compared to one of Cornell's traditional chambers of the same size. View comparison in detail
  • Cornell AES Walk-in chamber, 100-square-foot capacity: this prototype was completed in January 2018. It has humidity control and adjustable/removable benches. It currently uses 20% less electricity, compared to a conventional model. If the building chilled water and hot water loops were extended to the growth chamber room, as in some other campus buildings, the energy savings per chamber would be about 45%.
  • Cornell AES Reach-in chamber, 30-square-foot capacity: this larger reach-in chamber was completed in 2019. It has two growing levels, each with separate lighting.
  • Cornell AES Step-in chamber, with an estimated 45-square-foot capacity: this chamber will be half the size of the large walk-in chamber. It will have adjustable shelves and humidity control.

Contact information

Nick Van Eck
njv1 [at]