Thermal properties variations in unconsolidated material for very shallow geothermal application (ITER project)
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Department of Geology, GeoZentrum Nordbayern, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Schlossgarten 5, 91054, Erlangen, Germany
Publication date: 2018-04-09
Int. Agrophys. 2018, 32(2): 149–164
In engineering, agricultural and meteorological project design, sediment thermal properties are highly important parameters, and thermal conductivity plays a fundamental role when dimensioning ground heat exchangers, especially in very shallow geothermal systems. Herein, the first 2 m of depth from surface is of critical importance. However, the heat transfer determination in unconsolidated material is difficult to estimate, as it depends on several factors, including particle size, bulk density, water content, mineralogy composition and ground temperature. The performance of a very shallow geothermal system, as a horizontal collector or heat basket, is strongly correlated to the type of sediment at disposal and rapidly decreases in the case of dry-unsaturated conditions. The available experimental data are often scattered, incomplete and do not fully support thermo-active ground structure modeling. The ITER project, funded by the European Union, contributes to a better knowledge of the relationship between thermal conductivity and water content, required for understanding the very shallow geothermal systems behaviour in saturated and unsaturated conditions. So as to enhance the performance of horizontal geothermal heat exchangers, thermally enhanced backfilling material were tested in the laboratory, and an overview of physical-thermal properties variations under several moisture and load conditions for different mixtures of natural material was here presented.