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Feasibility study of snow melting system for bridge decks using geothermal energy piles integrated with heat pump in Canada

Liu, Hongwei, Maghoul, Pooneh, Bahari, Ako, Kavgic, Miroslava
Renewable energy 2019 v.136 pp. 1266-1280
cities, cost effectiveness, economic feasibility, energy balance, feasibility studies, geothermal energy, heat pumps, snow, surface temperature, sustainable technology, Canada
Snow melting systems using geothermal energy piles are a clean technology to overcome the problems of traditional chemical-based snow melting methods. This paper aims to study the feasibility of such systems in six major cities (Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg) in Canada. The amount of energy, as well as the inlet temperature of a hydronic system required to warm up and keep the surface temperature of a bridge slab unit above 0 °C during a typical snowfall were determined based on a transient energy balance at the slab surface and weather conditions for each city. The coefficient of performance (COP) of the heat pump for a bridge was then derived for each city based on its specific local geological conditions and heating demands. Also, the problems related to the ground thermal imbalance due to the operation of such systems were addressed. Finally, the economic feasibility study was performed to compare costs between a snow melting system for a bridge deck using geothermal energy piles and an electricity-based heating system. It was concluded that the snow melting system using geothermal energy piles is efficient and cost effective. However, the extent of efficiency and saving varies with implementation areas.