• Testing and analysis of a ground source heat pump in Interior Alaska

      Garber-Slaght, Robbin; Das, Debendra K.; Marsik, Tomas; Lin, Chuen-Sen (2019-08)
      Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) can be an efficient heating and cooling system in much of the world. However, their ability to work in extreme cold climates is not well studied. In a heating-dominated cold climate, the heat extracted from the soil is not actively replaced in the summer because there is very little space cooling. A ground source heat pump was installed at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) in Fairbanks, Alaska with the intent to collect data on its performance and effects on the soil for at least ten years. Analysis shows GSHPs are viable in the Fairbanks climate; however, their performance may degrade over time. According to two previous finite element models, the CCHRC heat pump seems to reach equilibrium in the soil at a COP of about 2.5 in five to seven years. Data from the first four heating seasons of the ground source heat pump at CCHRC is evaluated. The efficiency of the heat pump degraded from an average coefficient of performance (COP) of 3.7 to a mediocre 2.8 over the first four heating seasons. Nanofluids are potential heat transfer fluids that could be used to enhance the heat transfer in the ground heat exchanger. Improved heat transfer could lower installation costs by making the ground heat exchanger smaller. A theoretical analysis of adding nanoparticles to the fluid in the ground heat exchanger is conducted. Two nanofluids are evaluated to verify improved heat transfer and potential performance of the heat pump system. Data from the CCHRC heat pump system has also been used to analyze a 2-dimensional finite element model of the system's interaction with the soil. A model based on the first four years of data is developed using Temp/W software evaluates the ground heat exchanger for a thirty-year period. This model finds that the ground heat exchanger does not lower the ground temperature in the long term.