GRADUATE SEMINAR - "On the Modeling of Geothermal Heating Systems", by Professor Burt Tilley, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA

Education - Colloquium - WPI Only

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
2:00 PM-3:00 PM

Higgins Laboratories

Although the promise of environmentally friendly, low-cost energy harvesting for heating and cooling
of residential properties has been known for nearly 30 years, the adoption of the technology has been
slow in the United States. These geothermal systems, known as ground-source heat pumps (GSHP),
consist of a field of vertical boreholes in the ground with pipes carrying a coolant into the earth to
gain access to the stable year-round temperatures underground. However, a significant portion of the
cost of these systems is in the installation of the pipes, with a return on investment on the order of
8-10 years. The main cost in the installation is the depth of the borehole. Minimizing this length
makes these systems more economically competitive to traditional fossil-fuel systems, but the
effectiveness of the system depends on the temperature variation within the soil during operation and
the efficiency of the residence. Any improvements in the performance of these systems needs to
understand the coupling between the energy harnessed by the coolant and the thermal response within
the surrounding soil. In this talk we present and discuss some of our recent theoretical and
computational results by taking advantage of the small aspect ratio of the pipe radius to the borehole
depth of these systems.

Suggested Audiences: College

Phone: 508-831-5459

Last Modified: November 5, 2012 at 7:49 AM

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