Institute of Information and Communication Technologies (ITACA)

Improving the efficiency of air-conditioning systems using geothermal heat pumps

The Information Technologies against Climate Change Research Group has developed a more sustainable and efficient alternative for heating and refrigeration systems.

Researchers at the ITACA institute of the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) have achieved an important breakthrough in the field of air conditioning, by developing a new design of buried heat exchanger, which improves the efficiency of air conditioning systems using geothermal heat pump. Their work has been published in the journal Renewable Energy.

Geothermal heat pump air-conditioning systems take advantage of the heat stored in the earth to efficiently heat and cool buildings. To do this, they use a set of buried pipes that take advantage of the almost constant temperature of the ground to transfer heat to the interior of buildings in winter and remove excess heat in summer.

In addition to being environmentally friendly by reducing carbon emissions, these geothermal systems offer significant savings in long-term energy costs and provide constant and uniform thermal comfort inside buildings. «This technology constitutes today an efficient and sustainable alternative to conventional air conditioning systems,» highlights Javier F. Urchueguía, from the Information Technology Research Group against Climate Change (ICTvsCC) of the ITACA Institute of the UPV and author of the paper, together with Borja Badenes, Miguel A. Mateo Pla, Bruno Armengot and Hossein Javadi.

Advantages and details of the innovation developed

The Trilobular design developed by UPV researchers includes a central upflow tube and three satellite downflow tubes built with high thermal conductivity materials, which have been developed within the framework of the European GEOCOND project.

In this particular case, the main advantage is its superior thermal efficiency compared to traditional systems. This significant advance not only considerably reduces the installation costs of a geothermal system, but also facilitates its design and installation, opening up new opportunities in the field of geothermal air conditioning.

«Our work offers a more sustainable and efficient alternative in the design of heating and cooling systems,» adds Borja Badenes. In addition, the UPV researchers’ proposal also stands out for the use of innovative materials for these air conditioning systems: the central pipe is designed with a thermally highly insulating composite material, while the satellite pipes use a highly conductive plastic material.

«This combination of materials ensures efficient heat transfer with the ground, allowing for higher thermal performance,» says Miguel A. Mateo Pla.

Thermal tests (TRT) at the Geothermal Laboratory

To evaluate the efficiency of this design, thermal tests (TRT) were executed at the Geothermal Laboratory of the Universitat Politècnica de Valencia, whose experimental results showed that the new system «has a significantly lower temperature than conventional well heat exchangers, which allows for greater efficiency in heat injection,» says Bruno Armengot.

«These results have important implications for the geothermal energy industry, and offer a promising energy alternative for the future of heating and cooling buildings, contributing to the fight against climate change and the promotion of renewable energies,» concludes Hossein Javadi.

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