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Determination of ground thermal properties for energy piles by thermal response tests

Luo, Jin, Zhao, Haifeng, Huang, Wei, Zhu, YongQiang, Xiang, Wei, Rohn, Joachim
Environmental earth sciences 2018 v.77 no.4 pp. 152
energy, heat, heat exchangers, heat tolerance, models, thermal conductivity
Thermal properties of ground heat exchanger (GHE) such as effective thermal conductivity and borehole thermal resistance are commonly measured in the field by thermal response tests (TRTs). TRT has been proved to be a consolidated method to determine thermal properties of traditional borehole heat exchangers (BHEs). However, there is still lack of data for adopting TRT on energy piles with often a large diameter and deficiency in validation of TRT results with geological materials. In this study, ground thermal properties for typical configured GHEs of energy piles are investigated. Three TRTs are conducted and the obtained results are analyzed. Effective thermal conductivity, λₑff, of the ground derived by following the traditional linear source model shows large deviation as compared to the thermal conductivity of the geological materials. In order to determine λₑff properly, the linear source model is modified and an equivalent radius, rₑq, of energy piles is considered. The λₑff estimated by the modified model shows a good agreement with thermal conductivity of the in situ geological materials. In addition, there has been no obvious correlation between borehole thermal resistances and thermal efficiency due to heat transport of energy piles that depends not only by borehole thermal resistance but also by the pile’s diameter and ground conditions. The findings drawn from this study indicate that the modified model is reasonable and useful in determining thermal properties of energy piles.