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Characterization of a novel in-ground heat exchanger for applications in sustainable building energy and maintaining permafrost

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posted on 25.05.2022, 17:08 by Sarah R. Nicholson

This thesis investigates the use of a Helical Steel Pile (HSP), as an in-ground heat exchanger for a Ground-Source Heat Pump (GSHP) system. A multi-layered soil conductivity dataset was created to quantify thermal performance across a variety of climate and soil conditions. Geometric features of the HSP were optimized using parametric sweeps, and the capacity of the pile to supply a building load was characterized for a variety of inlet fluid temperatures, seasons, and locations. Transient simulations of the pile characterized its ability to supply three different types of building load sets across a year. Finally, 40-year simulations showed the potential for the HSP to provide heating to buildings in a northern region while also mitigating the thawing of permafrost from climate change. The results indicate a potential to provide sustainable thermal energy to remote communities while delaying the predicted thawing of permafrost locally by up to 75 years.





Master of Applied Science


Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Seth Dworkin