Experimental study of ground energy systems in Melbourne, Australia

S. Colls, I. Johnston and G. Narsilio

Ground energy systems use the ground as a heat source or sink to heat and cool buildings. Because the ground temperature is more stable than the ambient air, ground energy systems can be more efficient than conventional heating and cooling systems. Ground energy systems typically comprise a ground heat exchanger (GHE) connected to a building’s heating and cooling system via a heat pump. The GHE is usually a closed loop of pipe embedded in the ground. Fluid circulates through the embedded pipes to exchange heat between the ground and the building. A research facility has been built at the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus to experimentally study the effects of GHE configuration on ground energy system performance and investigate the potential to improve existing design techniques. This paper provides an introduction to ground energy systems and describes the experimental set-up.