Pioneering Heat Pump Project Geothermal Project

From Open Energy Information

Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Pioneering Heat Pump Project
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act – Geothermal Technologies Program: Ground Source Heat Pumps
Project Type / Topic 2 Topic Area 1: Technology Demonstration Projects
Project Description The geothermal system utilizes cost effective variable speed compressor and control technologies that are new and not yet commercially available. These methodologies have been tested in Europe and tried on a limited basis in a few small-scale projects in North America, but the Indiana Tech project will be the first time these ground-breaking technologies will be implemented on a large scale project in the U.S.

The design of the system will utilize 295 vertical wells spaced on 20-feet centers densely packed 250 feet beneath an existing athletic field. This will allow a maximum cooling load of approximately 440 tons. The first phase of the university’s plan to transition to geothermal energy involves 130 tons for two buildings in close proximity to the well field. With a new central pumping facility, the distribution system will use a dual loop to distribute condenser water for both heating and cooling. Preliminary energy models show that CO2 emissions will be reduced by 57%.

The project advances the goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 by creating jobs and aiding economic recovery with an aggressive timetable. Geotechnical borings have been completed and bore-field and ground loop design is beginning. Installation of the geothermal equipment is expected to begin in spring 2010. Further ARRA objectives are met through the advancement of energy efficient technology that will result from the ongoing studies and sharing of the research results.

State Indiana
Objectives Indiana Institute of Technology (d.b.a. Indiana Tech), a private university in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will partner with WaterFurnace International, a world renowned manufacturer of ground source heat pumps and geothermal systems, to research an innovative 130-ton geothermal project on the university’s campus, using technology not yet available commercially and never implemented at this scale in the U.S.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Indiana Institute of Technology
Awardee Website
Partner 1 WaterFurnace International, Inc.
Partner 2 Primary Engineering

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000116
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $1,339,591.00
Awardee Cost Share $1,339,591.00
Total Project Cost $2,679,182.00

Principal Investigator(s) Prof. Dave Aschliman, dean of engineering, Indiana Tech
Other Principal Investigators Carl Huber, PE, vice president, WaterFurnace International, Inc.

Michael Lubbehusen, PE, vice president, Primary Engineering

Targets / Milestones The unique five-year project consists of a closed loop geothermal system that will serve multiple buildings, converting them from a traditional gas-fired boiler system to ground source heat pumps that use carbon dioxide as the refrigerant source, rather than Freon or other products that would be detrimental to the environment.

Indiana Tech professors and energy engineering students will work with WaterFurnace’s research and development scientists to monitor and test the equipment and analyze the findings. The research results will help WaterFurnace further its development of geothermal products and processes, and data will be shared publicly to advance knowledge of the benefits of ground source heat pumps worldwide.

Commercialization barriers will be overcome by this demonstration of long-term cost effectiveness of geothermal heating and cooling in both immediate reduction of utility bills and system durability and longevity. Through use of vertical wells and the placement of the geothermal loop under an athletic field, the university demonstrates the adaptability and replicability of such a project for land-restricted areas.

Location of Project Fort Wayne, IN
41.1306°, -85.1289°

Impacts Project offers a variety of new technology enhancements which may allow for cheaper and more effective GHP systems including using CO2 as the compressor refrigerant, variable speed compressors. Reduces CO2 emissions by 57% over traditional systems.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs