Nanocomposite Materials Used for Ground Heat Exchanger Pipes
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This study compares the performance of single U-pipe, double U-pipe, and coaxial ground heat exchangers (GHE) equipped with standard HDPE and thermally enhanced (TE) pipes. Sizing calculations and 10-year hourly simulations were carried out with the GLHEPro software using as input a synthetic thermal load profile of a reference, heating-dominated, medium office building located in the U.S. climate zone 5B enclosing Colorado. Energy consumption by the ground heat and ground loop pumps were then calculated from the simulated outputs. Finally, a life-cycle cost analysis was performed to compare the total costs (construction and operation) net present value of the GHEs equipped with TE pipes with those equipped with standard HDPE pipes. Results showed that the double U-pipe with thermally enhanced pipes was the best option for the conditions considered in the study. Depending on the configuration, the use of TE pipes instead of standard HDPE pipes allowed a reduction of the GHE length between 9 and 14.8% and a reduction of the construction cost between 3.3 and 8.6 %. For each configuration tested, the operation costs were similar between the GHEs equipped with HDPE and TE pipes. This study demonstrates that GHEs equipped with TE pipes can be a financially viable and environmentally beneficial solution, especially if secondary benefits are factored in such as saved footprints on available real estate.