Alumni

A Unique Full-Scale Experiment with Shallow Geothermal Energy

The Geothermal Group of the Department of Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Melbourne has recently completed the installation of a unique shallow geothermal energy experiment on the University Campus in Parkville.

The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences

The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences

The new Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences building, a two storey building of around 1,500 m2 floor area located adjacent to the Bio21 Institute in Flemington Road and to be used in conjunction with University High School, has been fitted with a 120 kW shallow geothermal system. The underground part of the system features twenty-eight 50-metre deep borehole double loop ground heat exchangers to be used as heat extractors/injectors. Sustainable geothermal energy will be collected by the ground heat exchangers and transferred via four ground source heat pumps to the building to fulfill around 75% of its heating and cooling requirements.

Enclosure for heat pumps, control and distribution system and buffer tanks

Enclosure for heat pumps, control and distribution system and buffer tanks

The system, especially its underground part, is heavily instrumented with around 250 temperature sensors and other monitoring equipment to study its performance. This will allow a detailed study of the performance of a commercial-scale geothermal system under Victorian climate and geological conditions. When considering the amount of monitoring instruments installed, this project is one of the biggest experimental projects for such a study in Australia and, indeed, worldwide.

Live updates about the system’s performance will be broadcasted to the information screen installed in the school’s main hall. This information will be used to educate high school students and the general public about green geothermal energy technology.

Installing a 50m deep ground loop

Installing a 50m deep ground loop

The system will be monitored for a few years. The analysis of the experimental data will be used to advance Australian design guidelines for ground heat exchangers and promote shallow geothermal technology as a renewable alternative to traditional heating and air-conditioning systems.

This project is a part of the $3.8 million shallow geothermal energy research and demonstration project undertaken by the Department and funded by the Victorian Government through the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation (DSDBI).

Grouting a ground loop in a borehole

Grouting a ground loop in a borehole

The Geothermal Group has worked with the University’s Property and Campus Services Department on this project in conjunction with Geotech Pty Ltd who undertook the in-ground installations. PhD students Olga Mikhaylova and Amir Valizadeh Kivi, and research assistant Riyan Aditya have made significant contributions to this project. The project is being undertaken under the direction of Professor Ian Johnston and Dr Guillermo Narsilio.

This article was written by Olga Mikhaylova, PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, and has been reproduced with permission after its original publication at http://eddge.com.au/elizabeth-blackburn-school-of-sciences.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply