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CFD modeling of ground source heat pump
exchanger and experimental verification

CFD modeling of ground source heat pump
exchanger and experimental verification

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School of Mechanical Engineering School of Mechanical Engineering

Southwest Jiaotong University Southwest Jiaotong University

Chengdu, China, 61003 Chengdu, China, 610031

Itch0118@gmail.com Qinping3159@sina.com

Abstract—Heat transfer around vertical ground Heat transfer (Different inlet temperature and velocity, different

around vertical ground heat exchangers is a common problem types of soil)

for the design and simulation of ground-coupled heat pump

(GCHP) systems. A serial of calculation models have been found II. METHOD

for ground heat exchangers to predict the temperature

distribution of superficial layers, but most of them still take the A. Simulation models

thermal characteristics of the ground as constant, which have

With the help of CFD-software Fluent [5], we can build and

great effort to the heat transfer efficiency. In this paper we will

propose a combination test and verify and thus provide a proper

simulate the steady-state models flexibly. The software Fluent

way to develop a simplified configuration in CFD software. is based on a finite volume method to convert the governing

equations to solve algebraic equations.

Keywords- Ground source heat pump; Ground heat exchangers; According to the study of Eui-Jong Kim et al [6], there were

simulation; u-pipe about 1,500,000 hexahedron and wedge-shaped volume

elements (fig.1). The bent section of the U-pipe was ignored

I. INTRODUCTION for some reasons below: the major purpose of this paper is the

The temperature at a certain depth underground almost study on the thermal interaction between the temperature

remain constant annually, so it provides a better way that distribution underground and the borehole exchangers, so

compared to the warm air in summer or cold air in winter to comparing to the total pipe, the bent section is too short to have

improve the air-conditioning efficiency. To extract or inject a notable amount in thermal transmissions. Furthermore,

from the superficial layer, an efficient heat-exchanger is because of the irregular volume around the bent pipe, the cells

needful and necessary. Most of heat pump units use vertical will increase dramatically and the whole quality of the mesh

ground heat exchangers which have less ground area went downward consequently.

requirement than horizontal arrangements in residential and

commercial buildings. As a result it is dominant to understand

the way of heat transfer between heat exchangers and the soil

nearby.

Most borehole heat exchanger models recently developed

are based on line source theory or cylinder theory which the

thermal process are usually simulated in 1D or 2D. [1], [2], [3]

and [4] Therefore, the temperature field at certain depth of

underground are not clearly presented. This study concerns the

influence of temperature field at certain depth underground on

the process of heating transfer. The results of the simulation are

compared to laboratory measurements.

The main objectives of this field study are as follows:

x To select a reasonable configuration in Fluent to

predict the temperature field and thus to calculate the

coefficient of heat transmission effectiveness.

x To compare the laboratory measurement with

simulation results on the temperature field and verify

the accuracy of the configuration of simulation.

x Analyze the characters of temperature field at certain

depth of underground at all kinds of combinations. Figure 1

2050

The parameters and boundary conditions used for the

simulations are presented in Table i and Table ii respectively.

Figure 2

conditions are presented below:

x By the way of calculation, we ensure the fluid in pipe

flows turbulently to make the heat exchanging fully

and completely.

There were also some simplifications in this model. x Mean annual temperature in Chengdu is 18oC, so the

initial soil and borehole temperatures are set to 18oC.

x Soil is considered as a solid material whose

thermal parameters keep consistent at all x Fig, 3 shows that the sections at the depth of 1m, 2m,

directions. 3m and 4m; each section has 4 sensors arranged as fig,

3. Data are recorded every 30s and usually the whole

x There is no change at thermal conditions (density, test lasts 8hrs to make the distribution steady.

heat conductivity and specific heat) in fluid.

x The fluid in U-pipe flows turbulently and instead

of the heat transfer at the direction of the fluid

flows, we only think about the heat transport

between u-pipe and borehole, and furthermore,

to the ground.

x We see there’s a tight contact between u-pipe

and borehole so the contact resistance could be

neglected.

A small-scale laboratory model of a heat-exchanger (fig.2)

was constructed at South-west Jiaotong University in 2010 so

the simulation above can be verified by the experimental

measurement. [7] The test equipment consisted of an outer 5m

high steel cylinder with a diameter of 0.8m. To test

conveniently the test equipment was set horizontally. An inner

steel cylinder with a diameter of 0.15m represented the

borehole wall. Furthermore the annular ground region between

the borehole and the steel cylinder was filled with wet sandy-

gravel soil and the thermodynamic characteristics of the

mixture have been surveyed previously. Two orthogonal U-

pipes whose diameters were separately 25mm and 32mm were

set in the borehole. To verify by the simulations, 32mm

diameter u-pipe was used in the following tests. Figure 3

2051

A constant temperature is set at the outside of the pipe wall

which should be an acceptable approximation for a 5m long

borehole at steady-state conditions. Table iii shows all the

boundary conditions necessary in the experiments. To get a

notable temperature distribution, instead of 35oC that is regular

used in construction [8] as the inlet temperature, 40oC, 45oC,

50oC were selected in experiments. The statistical summary of

boundary conditions in experiments is shown in Table iii.

Figure 6

Inlet=50oC depth=4m

From fig.4, fig.5 and fig.6 the distribution present mostly

centrosymmetric. But as it goes closer to the central pipe, the

more asymmetrical the distribution presents. It can be inferred

that the branch of the u-pipe prevent the distribution from

presenting symmetrically. As a result of that the phenomenon

that it looks more circular when it goes further from the central

point.

MEASUREMENT

Figure 4

Inlet=40oC 4m depth Figure 7

Inlet temp=40oC the compare of test result and model

simulation

we get a similar result in the tests. The whole thermal

distribution is not totally symmetrical, part of the reason of this

phenomenon is that the soil around the borehole was not

average, the heat conduction is affected, in addition, the inlet

pipe is slightly warmer than outlet pipe, which of two reasons

can cause the difference at symmetrical test points. This kind of

discrepancy presents obviously when the test points are near to

Figure 5 the exchangers while on the other hand as the distance between

Inlet= 45oC 4m depth central point and sensor points.

2052

IV. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

In the condition that the movement of fluid in porous of soil

is neglected, the absolute error between laboratorial

measurements and simulation results maintains less than 0.6oC.

The temperature distribution according to the tests and

simulations are roughly central symmetric, and the further

goes to the central, the colder the sensors test. With the rise of

u-pipe inlet temperature, the higher temperature the fixed

sensors will survey; the more overall heat-transmission will

inject into the ground the more time the ground temperature

recover to the oral state required.

On the basis of the conclusion above, we also can roughly

estimate of the porous-underground water situation. There’s

Figure 8 no doubt that the convection and conduction of underground-

Inlet temp=45oC the compare of test result and model water will improve the heat transmission and the temperature

simulation distribution will not exactly be symmetry, but we still need a

systematic, detailed and convictive models and simulations to

tell us in which condition we can neglect the underground

water or have no choice but to count the convective and

conductive heat transmission of porous water in the total

thermal calculation in.

REFERENCES

and groundwater advection of soil viewed as porous medium and

numerical simulation on soil temperature field around underground heat

exchanger,” Dalian University of Technology, 2006

[2] Cane R L D, Forgas D A. Modeling of Ground-Source Heat Pump

Performance. ASHRAE Transactions, 1991, 97(1):909-925.

[3] Deerman J D, Kavanaugh S P. Simulation of Vertical U-Tube Ground-

Figure 9 Coupled Heat Pump Systems Using the Cylindrical Heat Source

Inlet temp=50oC the compare of test result and model Solution. ASHRAE Transactions, 1991, 97(1): 287-295.

simulation [4] Yavuzturk C, Spitler J D. A Short Time Step Response Factor Model for

Vertical Ground Loop Heat Exchangers. ASHRAE Transactions, 1999,

When the inlet temperature is 50oC, the temperature 105(2):475-485

distribution presents more symmetrical. The quantity of heat [5] http://my.fit.edu/itresources/manuals/

injection increase as the difference of soil-inlet temperature [6] Eui-Jong Kim , Jean-Jacques Roux , Gilles Rusaouen , Frédéric Kuznik,

grows. So it can be inferred that the same test point will grow “Numerical modelling of geothermal vertical heat exchangers for the

short time analysis using the state model size reduction technique”,

gradually following the rise of the inlet temperature, which also Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 706–714

cause the temperature gradient of soil increases. The simulation

[7] Yu Liu, Pin Qin,”Soil saturation transfer of heat penetration coupled

results fit the laboratory measurements well. numerical”, Southwest Jiaotong University,2007

[8] National Standards of Peoples Republic of China, “Technical code for

ground-source heat pump system”, GB 50366-2005, 2006.1.1

2053

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