Tungsram, one of the partners of Food Autonomy, is a 125-year-old manufacturing company located in Hungary and known for their light bulbs and electronics. Established in 1896, it initially produced telephones, wires, and switchboards and later became one of the biggest lighting manufacturer and inventor of various lighting technologies in Europe. In 1990, General Electric acquired a majority stake in Tungsram and over six years invested $600 million in the venture, thoroughly restructuring every aspect of its operations. To date, this has been the largest manufacturing investment by a U.S. firm in Central and Eastern Europe.
In 2018, the iconic name has returned to the global market as an innovative, premium European brand with the acquisition of GE Lighting's Europe, Middle East, Africa and Turkey general lighting business along with the global automotive operation. Nowadays, Tungsram wants to help tackle some of the pressing challenges of our time: food security, liveable environments with lower energy consumption and cost, most recently safe, sanitized environments – or in short “human wellbeing”.
Tungsram envisioned a unique R&D purpose vertical farm in Central Europe in its Újpest headquarters. At the time, Food Autonomy was still part of Tungsram, exercising as its Agritech business unit, so there was no question who should provide the indoor lights for this project. Tungsram needed not just a simple fixed spectrum solution, but for research purposes 4 and 6 channel research modules were also included into the plans.
After careful planning and discussions, Food Autonomy provided the 4 and 6 channel research modules for the indoor farm installation, which is based on technology evoking sci-fi movies, yet is one of the keyways to ensure the food security of the future. The daily operation of the indoor farm is monitored and remotely controlled with a Food Autonomy IT solution, the so called Powergrow Software.
The production area of the 5 research farm units is altogether 150 square meters where microgreens, strawberries, baby leaves and salads are grown in a hydroponic system exclusively under artificial LED lighting regardless of the time of day or weather. While it is commercial size, the focus of the facility is R&D which makes it unique in Central Europe. The area is complemented by two smaller growth chambers where the initial research activity takes place, and then the proven recipes are adopted on the commercial size farm.
The vertical farm of Tungsram in Budapest was partly financed by the Ministry for Innovation and Technology in the framework of the project called “Indoor agriculture – setting up a vertical farm”.
“With the solution provided by Food Autonomy we have been able to investigate the impact of dynamic lighting, light recipes focused on energy efficiency, and the ideal lighting strategy for 40-50 plant species so far. The lightbar lengths could be flexibly adjusted to accommodate our shelf sizes, they can be remotely controlled by the Powergrow software, and the system is very reliable.” -says Janos Adam PhD, Plant Manager at Tungsram R&D Vertical Farm
The R&D farm is being used on a daily basis to experiment with different lighting solutions and recipes. “With these lightbars we have increased vitamin and antioxidant concentration in plants, decreased and eliminated harmful nitrate content, changed the taste and the morphology of plants according to market needs, and controlled the behaviour of pollinators in order to have better quality and higher yield. With this knowledge we serve not just the lighting industry but the food industry as well.” -concludes Janos Adam PhD, Plant Manager at Tungsram R&D Vertical Farm
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