Seawater Greenhouse


Using seawater and sunlight the Seawater Greenhouse imitates the water cycle.

In short...

Charlie's Seawater Greenhouse can make food in the desert, preferably hot and dry near the sea.

Charlie Paton

Charlie's fascination with light and plant growth led to the concept for the Seawater Greenhouse.

The Seawater Greenhouse provides a low-cost solution by enabling year-round crop production in some of the world’s hottest and driest regions. It does this using seawater and sunlight. The technology imitates natural processes, helping to restore the environment while significantly reducing the operating costs of greenhouse horticulture.

Seawater is evaporated at the front of the greenhouse to create cool humid conditions inside. A proportion of the evaporated seawater is then condensed as fresh water that can be used to irrigate the crops. Excess freshwater created in the Seawater Greenhouse can be used to irrigate additional crops grown outside the greenhouse.

The air going into the greenhouse is first cooled and humidified by seawater, which trickles over the first evaporator. This provides good climate conditions for the crops. As the air leaves the growing area, it passes through the second evaporator over which seawater is flowing. This seawater has been heated by the sun in a network of pipes above the growing area, making the air much hotter and more humid. It then meets a series of vertical pipes through which cool seawater passes. When the hot humid air meets the cool surfaces, fresh water will condense as droplets that run down to the base where they can be collected.

The cool and humid conditions in the greenhouse enable crops to grow with very little water. When crops are not stressed by excessive transpiration, both the yield and the quality are higher.



ABC's Landline reporter Pru Adams presents an in-depth report on Sundrop Farms' Port Augusta facility in April 2012.

Short animation about Sundrop Farms.

Project Manager, Reinier Wolterbeek, talks about the Seawater Greenhouse in the news on Southern Cross.
Seawater Greenhouse Australia was established in 2010 as a joint venture between Seawater Greenhouse Ltd and Saumweber Holdings Ltd. With effect from 28th February 2011, it became a fully-owned subsidiary of Saumweber Holdings Ltd.
It will continue to trade under the name of Sundrop Farms Pty Ltd.

Seawater Greenhouse

In this video from Discovery Channel, Building The Future, Charlie Paton describes how to create water out of thin air with the Water Theater. A collaboration between Seawater Greenhouse Ltd (, Grimshaw Architects ( and the Eden project (

Seawater Greenhouse wins Tech Awards

The Seawater Greenhouse has been announced as one of the five environmental award laureates for the annual Tech Museum Awards for 2006. The awards, organised by the Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, CA, picks five nominees in five categories for applying technology to benefit humanity.

Turn the Desert Green

"Qatar in many ways is ground zero for a lot of the challenges we're going to see in the century ahead", argues US ex-pat Jonathan Smith, from the Qatar National Food Program. Soaring temperatures, swelling populations and minimal rainfall plague the otherwise booming nation. Now its leaders are pushing ambitious experiments like the Sahara Forest Project, transforming seawater and sunlight into fresh water, vegetables, electricity, biofuel and animal feed. "The techniques we're developing here can be applied in many regions in the world", the project scientists insist.