Finite Volume Based Computer Program for Ground Source Heat Pump Systems Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Finite Volume Based Computer Program for Ground Source Heat Pump Systems
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act – Geothermal Technologies Program: Ground Source Heat Pumps
Project Type / Topic 2 Topic Area 2: Data Gathering and Analysis
Project Description The goal of the proposed project is to develop a more detailed, more fundamental, and more accurate computer program of GHP systems than currently exists commercially. This goal will be achieved within the framework of being a user friendly program that can be used by people in the ground source heat pump industry, as well as individuals interested in purchasing ground source heat pump systems. This will be done by implementing a finite volume technique for modeling the heat transfer between the ground loop and the earth. Ground source heat exchangers are a complex, multi-dimensional, unsteady problem that is currently handled using g functions. These g functions limit the types of loops that a geothermal designer can investigate, the information available to the designer, and the accuracy of the results. The program being proposed here will eliminate these restrictions and give individuals interested in implementing a geothermal system greater ability to design GHP systems. One useful piece of information provided by this program, not known to be provided by the popular commercial codes, is graphs of the soil temperature around the ground loop as a function of time and position. This is useful information that will be provided by the current program so that geothermal designers can determine the optimum spacing between their vertical or horizontal loops, as well as other design decisions.
State Ohio
Objectives To speed the development of GHP (ground source heat pump) systems better computer tools that accurately analyze, size, and price GHP systems are required. In addition, software that compares the price of a GHP system to that of propane, oil, or gas heating systems coupled with a vapor compression air-conditioner, and an air-to-air heat pump system is required. The work being proposed here will do this using a more accurate model that provides more information to the geothermal system designer than the current commercial codes do.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Wright State University
Awardee Website

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000116
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $232,596.00
Awardee Cost Share $58,153.00
Total Project Cost $290,749.00

Principal Investigator(s) Dr. Jim Menart

Targets / Milestones A key output of the proposed computer program will be the payback period of the ground source heat pump system over traditional heating and cooling systems. To obtain accurate payback periods the performance of the heat pump is required. The proposed program will predict this in a detailed, but user friendly manner. In order to provide accurate pricing information the ground loop heat exchanger model must be coupled to a heat pump model; this will be done in this computer code.

Location of Project Dayton, OH
39.7589°, -84.1917°

Impacts Improve GHP system designs and provide better cost/decision information for consumers, comparing costs for propane, oil, and gas heating systems, to aid GHP system designer in making the decision to install GHP.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs