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Energy Geostructures

Energy Geo-Structures

Task Force Leader: Fleur Loveridge

Energy geo-structures such as thermal piles, diaphragm walls and tunnels can utilize the ground for heating and cooling of structures, as well as for storage of heat. These thermo-active elements in contact with the ground can be used as pathways to extract heat in the winter and inject heat in the summer. Therefore ground-source heat exchange can help in balancing the heat energy demand over seasons and also help in maintaining a better energy management between structures with different energy demand profiles. The use of deep foundation elements as heat exchangers presents unique challenges for the broader geotechnical engineering profession. The processes that govern the heat exchange behavior can affect the load transfer mechanisms of these deep foundation elements. There is need to synthesize various thermal pile design guidelines available in different countries. There are also opportunities for using heat in these applications to improve the behavior of some types of soils. Opportunities for storage of heat obtained from renewable resources (solar thermal, fuel cells, etc.) in soils and borehole arrays are another important area of future research. This coupling necessitates a broad understanding of thermal and mechanical processes. These complex phenomena relate to thermal soil behavior and temperature induced soil-structure interaction.