Introduction

Much effort has been made so far to reduce production costs and culture periods by improving culture methods in terms of compositions of plant growth regulators and nutrient components, types of supporting materials, equipments, culture vessels with lids, and culture room environment.

However, production costs are still high and culture periods required for initiation, multiplication, shoot growth, rooting and acclimatization are still long in conventional micropropagation system. In addition, in many cases, physio-morphological quality of plant is still not high enough for wider commercialization. A main reason for high production costs is that we have not paid much attention on the energy and material efficiencies in micropropagation systems. Furthermore, we have paid little attention on the environmental friendliness of micropropagation systems or release of pollutants to the outside environment from micropropagation systems.

In this chapter, conventional or current micropropagation systems are discussed from viewpoints of maximum use of resources for efficient production and minimum release of pollutants for environmental conservation. A concept of a

closed micropropagation system as one type of closed plant production system is introduced to produce high quality plants and to reduce the production costs by improving the energy and material efficiencies and environmental friendliness of micropropagation systems.

2. RESOURCES, PRODUCTS AND BY-PRODUCTS AS POLLUTANTS

In any production system, we need some resources for production. Resources include labor, time, structures (buildings, etc.), equipments, supplies, energy and information. Generally, in any production system, some by-products are obtained, in addition to the targeted product(s). When these by-products are useless, or harmful for the producer, they are released as wastes or environmental pollutants from the production system to its environment, with or without additional costs. Environmental pollutants include thermal or heat energy, noise and any kind of deleterious materials.

Recently, the producer is increasingly required to make the by-products non-polluting or inert before releasing them to the environment, resulting in an increase in production costs.

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