Andrew Chiasson
Geo-Heat Center, Oregon Institute of Technology


Geothermal options - decision
System construction

System design

Ground heat exchanger materials
and layout
Inside the building
Geothermal loop design

The open-loop option

General Decision Tree
Unique Opportunity
(gray water, etc.)


Groundwater for open loop,
existing well use or need


Evaluate resource
obtain permits, agreements, etc.

Good disposal

Aquifer test,
groundwater chemistry

Hard rock,
good quality groundwater


standing column well


Enough land for horizontal loop,
good soil for excavation

Good conditions for pond loop,
interested owner

Good conditions for vertical loop


Pond thermal


Test bores,
Thermal conductivity test

Annual unbalanced loads,
AND/OR thermal storage opportunity

HVAC System



GHP Pros/Cons


Energy efficiency
Low maintenance
Water heating
No auxiliary heat (in most cases)
No outdoor equipment
Packaged equipment
Environmentally “green”
Lowers peak demand
Low life-cycle cost
Allows more architectural freedoms
Better zone comfort control

GHP Pros/Cons • Disadvantages • First (capital) cost • • • • However. incentives. energy-savings mortgages or loop-leasing are some ways of off-setting costs Limited qualified designers Geographically limited contractors Supply/demand => higher vendor markups .

loop field. borehole field. ground (or earth) coupling.System Construction What does the Loop Do? • The closed-loop is a heat exchanger. earth energy exchanger. Geoexchange (GX) • Design goal is to size the loop to provide fluid temperatures to the heat pump(s) within the design target range (usually 35 oF – 90oF) to meet thermal loads of the building . where fluid flowing through the loop exchanges heat with the earth • The earth is a solid material! => thermal storage effects • Synonyms: Ground (or ground-loop heat exchanger).

System Construction • • • All underground piping is high-density polyethylene (HDPE) with thermally-fused joints (according to ASTM standards) Field installation procedures have been standardized by IGSHPA DX systems: • • Copper refrigerant lines are direct buried Standards and operating experiences do not exist to the level of water-source heat pumps .

relatively shallow holes Mud-rotary: soft sediments and sedimentary rocks Air-rotary: soft to hard relatively dry rocks Air-hammer: hard rock Cable-tool: hard rock. deep holes (slow drilling) Sonic drilling: high drilling rates in most materials Loop (or borehole heat exchanger) is rolled off a reel into borehole Borehole is grouted from the bottom to the top with a “tremie pipe” to insure a good seal • • Standard bentonite grout Thermally-enhanced grouts (bentonite/sand mixture) .System Construction Vertical Loops • Installed by standard drilling methods • • • • • • • • Auger: soils.

System Construction Vertical Loops Mixing grout Installing vertical loop .

System Construction Vertical Loops Drilling fluids flowing from hole as grout is pumped in Inserting u-tube & tremie-pipe With geo-clips .

System Construction Vertical Loops 1 bore per circuit u-tubes can range in diameter from ¾ to 1 ¼ inch (1-inch is most common) 150 – 300 ft typical depth Reverse-return piping arrangement .

System Construction Horizontal Loops 4 – 6 ft burial depth .

System Construction Horizontal Loops .

System Construction Pond Loops .

System Construction Pond Loops Copper Pipe Geo Lake Plate HDPE Pipe .

hose ports) on the supply and return runouts Large systems use one or more vaults Smaller systems can have valves on headers in mechanical room .System Construction Flushing/Purging • • • • The loop must be designed so it can be flushed to remove debris and entrained air upon commissioning or at any time necessary Install provisions (shut-off valves.

System Construction Building Interior (from Water Furnace) .

System Construction Building Interior (from Water Furnace) .

System Construction Building Interior (from Water Furnace) .

System Construction Building Interior – Hydronic Systems Using water-to-water heat pumps for hot water .

output water temperatures are about 120oF (cast iron radiators generally designed for 160-180oF) Baseboards Fan Coil Units .System Construction Building Interior – Hydronic Systems Using water-to-water heat pumps Max.

increasing heat pump capacity may result in too much air flow In commercial buildings.System Construction Building Interior – Outdoor Air • • • • Several options Introducing too cold or too hot outdoor air directly to a heat pump decreases it’s capacity => but. some type of heat recovery system is generally recommended Water-water heat pumps tied to the ground loop can be used to precondition outdoor air .

Loop Design Important Parameters Vertical Closed Loop SOLAR COLLECTOR ARRAY COOLING TOWER Heat Gains and Losses ~ Ceiling-Mounted Units ~ To/From Ground Loop Console Units Vertical Units ~ Mechanical Room Average Thermal Conductivity BoreholeThermal Resistance Borehole Spacing or Undisturbed Earth Temperature .

Loop Design Important Parameters Horizontal Closed Loop   Various loop configurations => Borehole resistance concept is replaced by trench resistance Trench depth dictates average earth temperature! => Twinter. Tsummer .

Loop Design • • • • RULES OF THUMB ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FINAL DESIGN Why? The earth is a solid material. etc. so the building life-cycle must be considered . so effects of run time are important in the design!! => Heat pump run hours must be considered Loop design for residential buildings is generally handled differently than commercial buildings Why? Internal gains in commercial buildings. load diversity. affect annual heat rejection/extraction to the ground.

want to minimize on-off cycling. a school with wings may have a 50-60% diversity . & Canada. maximize humidity control If necessary. residential buildings have no diversity. accepted practice is to size heat pump equipment based on the peak cooling load. supplemental electric heat can make up the difference Block loads (greatest sum of hourly zone loads) determine the loop size • • Block loads depend on the building “diversity” For example.Loop Design Know the Loads Profile of the Building • Zone loads determine the heat pump size (a zone is the area controlled by a thermostat) • • • In U.S. and should NOT be oversized.

residential may use spreadsheets) Peak hour  Design month run fraction (usually from degree days)   Ground thermal properties Ground-loop software that considers:  Peak hour  Monthly run fraction  Annual full load hours OR monthly loads    Design lengths:  IGSHPA method  Proprietary software (usually employs IGHSPA method) Commercial Ground thermal properties Design lengths (NO UNIFIED METHOD):  ASHRAE method  Proprietary software  .Loop Design Overview of Procedure Building Loads Residential (from loads calculation software.

Loop Design Design Software .

2 – 2.8 0.3 – 2.1 Btu/hr-ft-F 0.2 – 2.Loop Design Thermal Conductivity   Thermal conductivity is generally dependent on density.85 – 1.5 – 1.8 – 1.4 Grouts: – Standard bentonite – Thermally-enhanced 0.9 Rocks: – – – – –  Clays (15% moisture) Clays (5% moisture) Sands (15% moisture) Sands (5% moisture) Granite Basalt Limestone Sandstone Shale 1.3 .4 .40 .2.0 0.2 – 1.4 1.1 Btu/hr-ft-F 1.2 1.42 0.6 . moisture content. mineral content Soils: – – – –  0.

Loop Design Thermal Conductivity  An in-situ thermal conductivity test (or thermal response test) is recommended on commercial jobs .

or office/school in warm climate • A supplemental piece of equipment (or another process) handles some of the building space load • • • • • • Boiler Solar collector array Cooling tower Pond or swimming pool Snow melting system Refrigeration load .Loop Design Hybrid Systems • Unbalanced loads over annual cycle • A school in a cold climate with no summer occupancy.

Loop Design Hybrid Systems HEATING LOADS COOLING LOADS .

S.Loop Design Hybrid Systems • Need software for analysis => current ASHRAE research project to study design and control Example School in Northern U. .

Loop Design Loop Lengths for Planning • • Generalized loop lengths for planning purposes NOT recommended for final designs => use software .

not total heat pump capacity Desire just enough flow to maintain turbulence. especially at peak hours => check Reynolds Number (Re > 2300) More turbulence means more convection heat transfer. but more pumping energy .Pumping • • • • • Flow requirement for heat pumps is 2 to 3 gpm/ton Flow requirement for 1-inch u-tubes is similar in order to maintain turbulent flow Total loop flow rate should be based on BLOCK LOADS.

loop should be freeze-protected (temperature drop across heat pumps of 10oF should be assumed) Use as little antifreeze as necessary! Types of antifreeze: • • • • • Propylene glycol Ethanol Methanol CPTherm (new product) Need to check viscosities at low temperatures => impacts pumping energy .Pumping • • • If freezing temperatures are expected from heat pumps.

15 hp/ton In other words.1 hp/ton 0.05 hp/ton 0.05-0.075 hp/ton 0.Pumping • ASHRAE grading system: • • • • • • A-Excellent B-Good C-Mediocre D-Poor 0.075-0. pumping kW should be <10% of total system demand Reduce friction losses by: • Reverse-return piping • Parallel circuits • Use larger-diameter pipe in deeper bores .1-0.

Pumping • Flow management • • • • • Variable speed drives in central systems Sub-central pumping Individual flow centers if possible Constant flow pumping NOT recommended De-centralized loop fields in buildings with diverse floor plans .

well fouling Water disposal Laws and regulations Permits. water rights . especially for large loads and residential applications that need a drinking water well Water well drilling technology is wellestablished Stable source temperature Standing column well option in certain circumstances • Disadvantages : Water quality dependent • • • • • • Scaling Corrosion Iron bacteria.Open Loop Option     Advantages : Low cost.

pond Vertical loops generally have highest first cost Consider practical considerations for loop installation => hybrid systems. horizontal vs. outdoor air Efficiency and lower cost through design Final designs should use design software .Summary • • • • • • Closed Loops: vertical vs. open loop option Think system: interior HVAC components.