Alliant Energy Logo Alliant Energy Geothermal


Call 1-800-723-7635, use our Contact Us form or e-mail .

Home  | About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Sitemap  

Working With It - Designing

Heat Exchangers

The overall ground heat exchanger design procedure includes:

  • Selecting the exchanger configuration.
  • Selecting the plastic pipe type and size to be used for the loop and headers.
  • Estimating the length or size, based on the anticipated design ground loading and fluid (water or antifreeze) to be circulated.
  • Selecting the circulating pump or pumps.

Heat exchanger design example

Assume that a building with a design heating load of 50,000 Btuh at 13 degrees winter design outdoor temperature, and a cooling load of 36,000 Btuh at 96 degrees summer outdoor temperature.

The load profile would look like this:

Heat Exchanger Diagram

This profile can be reduced to two algorithms, for use in a computer spreadsheet that can be set up to do the calculations. Similar equations can be developed for the capacity and energy use of the geothermal heat pump and the competitive equipment.

In some cases, a load profile is developed for both occupied and unoccupied building hours. If so, the bin temperature data can then be allocated accordingly.

In addition, the loss efficiency due to partial load operation, when the equipment cycles off and on, must be considered. This cycling increases the run time for the equipment.

This adjustment is called the PLF - partial load factor. PLF is defined as the theoretical run time divided by actual run time. Studies have resulted in an analytical expression for PLF which uses a "degradation" factor called CD, as shown below:

Heat Equation on Blackboard

CD has an assumed value of about 0.25 and the PLF cannot exceed 1.0. The actual run time is the theoretical run time multiplied by the PLF.

The bin calculation can then be continued. The use of a personal computer and a spreadsheet program can facilitate all these calculations.

You can approximate the entering water temperature of the geothermal heat pump. Typically, the groundwater temperature will vary from the minimum during the cold months to the maximum in late summer.

A good starting estimate of the minimum water temperature is 40 degrees above the coldest outdoor temperature or 25 degrees, whichever is the greatest. A good starting estimate of the maximum water temperature is 10 to 20 degrees below the highest outdoor temperature at the location.

During the spring and fall, the ground temperature is near its mean value and entering water will be about the same because the heat pump operates infrequently. Equations can be written to approximate the entering water temperature to the outdoor air temperature.

Ground load calculations for the design of the ground heat exchanger requires information on the amount of heat transferred to or from the ground during specific time periods.

During the cooling season, the ground load is the sum of:

  • The cooling load in unit Btuh capacity times bin hours;
  • The unit power input in unit kWs times the actual run time percent times the bin hours; and
  • The loop circulating pump power in kWs times bin hours.

The ground load can then be calculated for the year and for the peak heating and cooling months. This information is then used to design the ground loop heat exchanger.

Chapter three of the IGSHPA Installation Guide gives complete details, sample calculations and various equations.

About Us Legal | Sitemap | Privacy