Integrated Model of a Feasible Ground Source Heat Pump System for Central Texas

Photo of Christopher Bender, Benjamin Barr, Benjamin Hardee Students: Christopher Bender, Benjamin Barr, Benjamin Hardee

Sponsor: The University of Texas at Austin

Date: Spring 2010

Requirements:
The model must be stand-alone (that is, cannot be a black box solver). The models predictions must be within 10% of empirical field data. The model must account for and provide opportunities to study the effects of transient behavior on long-term performance. The model must have a reasonable run-time of no more than several hours for long-term studies. Finally, the model must be applicable to Texas cities and soil types.

Problem:
To develop a robust and accurate computer model that simulates the performance of a U-tube style Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) system, with a view to its economic and technical feasibility in Central Texas.

Solution:
We chose to divide the model into two distinct heat transfer regimes: the nearfield and farfield. The 3D nearfield model determines the heat transfer from the fluid in the U-tube to the borehole, and divides the length of the U-tube into sections whose temperatures are updated as heat dissipates into the soil. The farfield model is a 2D, cylindrical, finite difference mesh that covers all heat transfer from the boundary of the cylindrical borehole to the soil. The model was successfully validated against field data obtained from a research study.

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