OPUS

System Geothermal Heat Pump

Image provided by Ferris State University

Geothermal heat pumps or ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) use the earth's relatively constant temperature (which ranges from about 45°F in northern States to about 70°F in the deep south) to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings. It is the job of the piping system to couple the earth with the heat pump and provide a path for fluid to transport energy.

Geothermal heat pump systems may be of the open loop or closed loop design.  In the open loop, water is first drawn from a body of water such as a lake or stream, or, as is the more common practice, from wells drilled in the earth.  The water is then piped through the heat pump. During the heating season, the heat pump extracts heat energy from the water and uses that energy to heat the building.  During the cooling season, the heat pump extracts heat energy from the building, and uses the ground water as a heat sink to take the heat energy away.  Finally, the water is pumped back out of the building, where it can be used for irrigation or simply drained away.

The closed loop system works in the same manner with one fundamental difference.  Water is not pumped from the earth or from bodies of water.  Instead, water or a glycol solution is routed through geothermal loops of plastic tubing that are immersed in a body of water or buried deep in the ground (below the frost line).  Energy is exchanged between the earth and the geothermal loop through the walls of the tubing.  In the closed loop system, the fluid within the geothermal loops is simply recalculated between the heat pump and loops in the ground or body of water.

Compatible Materials

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