Toronto Metropolitan University
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Characterization of the Effects of Borehole Configuration and Interference with Long Term Ground Temperature Modelling of Ground Source Heat Pumps

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-19, 14:25 authored by Ying Lam E. Law, Seth DworkinSeth Dworkin
Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional heating and cooling systems because of their high efficiency and low greenhouse gas emissions. The ground acts as a heat sink/source for the excess/required heat inside a building for cooling and heating modes, respectively. However, imbalance in heating and cooling needs can change ground temperature over the operating duration. This increase/decrease in ground temperature lowers system efficiency and causes the ground to foul—failing to accept or provide more heat. In order to ensure that GSHPs can operate to their designed conditions, thermal modelling is required to simulate the ground temperature during system operation. In addition, the borehole field layout can have a major impact on ground temperature. In this study, four buildings were studied—a hospital, fast-food restaurant, residence, and school, each with varying borehole configurations. Boreholes were modeled in a soil volume using finite-element methods and heating and cooling fluxes were applied to the borehole walls to simulate the GSHP operation. 20 years of operation were modelled for each building for 2x2, 4x4, and 2x8 borehole configurations. Results indicate that the borehole separation distance of 6 m, recommended by ASHRAE, is not always sufficient to prevent borehole thermal interactions. Benefits of using a 2x8 configuration as opposed to a 4x4 configuration, which can be observed because of the larger perimeter it provides for heat to dissipate to surrounding soil were quantified. This study indicates that it is important to carefully consider ground temperature during the operation of a GSHP. Borehole separation distances, layout, and hybridization should be studied to alleviate ground fouling problems.