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Steve Lowe, PE, CEM, LEED AP BD+C Mechanical Engineer Reynolds, Smith, and Hills Norfolk, VA

Thank you for having me Please set phones to vibrate Please ask questions when you think of them

What is Geothermal? How does it work? What are appropriate applications of Geothermal Heat Pump systems? What are the major components of a Geothermal Heat Pump system? How do Geothermal Heat Pump systems save money? Design and construction considerations

Heat from the Earth

Using the earths internal

Earth as a heat sink

Using the earth to

thermal energy to generate steam NOT what we are talking about today

absorb, store and release heat for seasonal cooling and heating This is the focus of todays presentation and is known as GeoExchange



PROS Balanced Loads Plenty of Real Estate Long Term Facility Ownership

CONS Unbalanced Loading Tight site, urban setting Short payback requirements (less than 710 years)

What can we do to influence these factors?

Load balance is important to avoid long term depletion or saturation of the well-field. Climactic Extremes
Cold Climates Is there a refrigeration or other cooling process from which we can capture heat? Hot and/or humid climates Is there a heating process to which we can dump waste heat?

Internal Loads

Occupancy, electronic equipment, processes Can process loads be addressed with a separate system? Can an internal or process load be used to balance a climactic load?

Additional Considerations

Understand load profile of a well insulated building Be wary of the effect of air side energy recovery

Balancing the load is a detailed engineering process, not a quick exercise!

The simplest way to reduce cost, payback period, and space requirement is with a Hybrid System more on this later.

Geothermal Heat Exchanger

Boreholes Distribution Piping

Pumping System
Pumps Air Removal Filtration

HVAC Equipment
Heat Pumps, Chillers, Water Heaters


Borehole Components
Drilled hole Factory Fabricated U-bend and

pipe Thermally Enhanced Bentonite Grout Tremie pipe for grouting (this is a tool, not a permanent component)

Zones Trenching

DESIGN PARAMETERS Soil Characteristics

Volumetric Heat Capacity Thermal Conductivity Undisturbed Temperature

SPECIFICATIONS Depth Spacing Diameter Quantity Tube Size Double or Single U-bend Layout

Heating and Cooling Load Profiles Field Configuration

Pumping Arrangement
Primary only (okay for small

systems on a tight budget) Primary-Secondary (much more reliable and efficient for larger systems)

Air Removal piping system is very large, this is a significant consideration Filtration Balancing more on this later

Balancing Reverse Return Sub-field piping

Balancing Balancing valves for piping to zones and sub-fields

Water-to-Air Heat Pumps

Dedicated Outdoor Air Units Zone Heat Pumps

Water-to-Water Heat Pumps

Chillers Heaters Chiller/Heaters

Cooling Towers (closed circuit coolers, fluid coolers, etc.) Boilers

Distributed Water Source Heat Pumps

Most common application Heat pumps cool/heat space and reject/extract

heat to/from the loop Recommendation: Use a dedicated outdoor air unit unitary heat pumps do not handle much outdoor air

Geothermal Central Systems

Chillers generate hot and chilled water to be

used in air handler coils Similar to a four-pipe central plant, but with additional controls and no boilers or cooling towers

DISTRIBUTED Lower first cost Unitary equipment is simpler to operate and maintain Single pumping loop simplifies design

CENTRAL Centralized Maintenance Better acoustical performance equipment located in mechanical room Better humidity control More complex design and operation

Hybrid Systems can be applied to central or distributed geothermal heat pump system System utilizes a boiler or cooling tower in addition to the geothermal heat exchanger to address load imbalance or peak operation Frequently the best option
Lower cost More predictable long term performance Flexibility

Recommendation: Always include provisions for future connection of a cooling tower and/or boiler.

Load shifting Turning off equipment Improving Equipment Efficiency Reducing Maintenance and Repair

Load shifting
Moving heat from one part of the building to

another Inherent to all water source heat pump systems (geothermal or not) Essentially a thermal storage system

Turning off equipment

Turn off boilers in winter Turn off cooling towers in summer Downside more pumping energy

Improving Equipment Efficiency

Water source is generally more efficient than air

source due to improved delta T and heat transfer coefficient. Geothermal systems have lower condenser water temperatures, especially early in their life, this results in higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER).

Reducing Maintenance and Repair

Equipment is indoors longer life Better delta T reduces the lift on the compressor The geothermal heat exchanger requires zero


Well field life Insulate condenser water pipe System Configuration Pumping Arrangement Equipment Selection Hybrid or not

Construction Sequence
Well field installation is a major undertaking! Well field occupies large percentage of the site Coordination with other site work and lay-down areas Well field is often placed under storm water management ponds, recreation fields, and parking lots

Quality Control

Factory tested U-bends Field test every well Field test every connection Require test reports from the contractor