Simulating Geothermal Heat transfer at UMass
Modeling Ground Thermal Heat transfer with a GHX simulation modeled after the UMass system
This project was designed to determine the UMass Geothermal Heat Exchange (GHX) Project's longevity in balancing thermal heat energy. Our approach took the use of a pre-built GHX modeling software, to calculate the change in ground temperature for given heating and cooling loads. The UMass campus does not have documented cooling load data, so a sensitivity analysis was conducted for different arbitrary cooling loads for the given heating load. With other projects such as building retrofits set to reduce the heating load of campus, a similar analysis was run to determine whether or not these reductions in heating are essential to sustaining the GHX system. It was determined through modeling that with the current heating capacity, UMass would need to provide ~300 million KBTU of cooling with the GHX system to maintain the current ground temperatures, but this number was decreased significantly with the paired planned retrofits. Our graphical analysis can be used for future reference when actual cooling loads are obtained to understand the effect on the ground temperature for the given load to make adjustments for longevity. Having this information is crucial to limit the depletion of the ground’s thermal energy over time to a point where the system is incapable of providing enough heat.