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An investigation of the behaviour of the ground in response to energy extraction

Hepburn, Benjamin David Philip 2013. An investigation of the behaviour of the ground in response to energy extraction. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The performance and sustainability of ground source heat systems is dependent on the thermal behaviour of neighbouring ground. This thesis describes a comprehensive experimental and numerical investigation into the ground behaviour in response to horizontal ground source heat systems. Experimental investigations comprised of a field-scale monitoring scheme, designed and implemented in a horizontal ground source heat system providing space heating to a domestic property located in Mid-Wales, UK. A high resolution ground temperature data-set has been compiled over a 13 month period via 112 thermistors buried in the ground. Further data-sets representing the climatic variables and heat pump behaviour were also compiled over the same period, facilitating a thorough investigation of the ground behaviour in response to heat extraction at the site. Soil properties were also measured at the site as part of a larger site investigation undertaken. The numerical model applied is a coupled thermal-hydraulic (TH) model previously developed at the Geoenvironmental Research Centre (GRC). The GRC’s current model was extended to include developed boundary conditions for the TH simulation of horizontal ground source heat systems, describing the soil’s interaction with the ground-loop and atmosphere. Developments were subject to rigorous validation including comparisons with ground-data collected at the experimental site. The validated model was applied to investigate the long-term ground behaviour at the monitoring site and the effects of different surface materials on the ground behaviour including the recharge process. Finally, the model was applied to investigate the validity of an existing design code for ground source heat system design. The resolution and duration of the collated data-set facilitated extensive analysis, including a thorough investigation of the ground thermal distributions resulting from heat extraction and recharge. Findings indicated unsymmetrical distributions, highlighting potential avenues for system optimisation. Further to this it can be said that the data-set, in its own right, is a significant contribution to the scientific community and is able to provide a means of validation for future models. Results from the numerical investigation indicated that the ground thermal behaviour exhibits an annual cyclic pattern after approximately 3 years. From a holistic perspective, the results demonstrate that horizontal ground source heat systems can provide a sustainable means of providing space heating. Further long-term studies investigating the effects of surface materials show that more thermal energy can be sustainably extracted from systems with urban surface types (i.e. asphalt and brick). Investigations into an existing design code revealed that a ground-loop designed to meet the loads of the monitoring site resulted in unsustainable heat extraction, in doing so demonstrating the simplification of ground-loop burial depth within the current design process. Knowledge regarding the ground response to horizontal ground source heat systems has been furthered through the collection and analysis of field-scale data within this study. Further to this, the boundary developments and validation undertaken have allowed for a more thorough investigation of the long-term ground behaviour than previous studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Engineering
Subjects: T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ground; Source; Heat; Energy; Extractiohn; Sustainable.
Funders: European Union
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:38

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