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Procedia Engineering 00 (2017) 000–000
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Procedia Engineering 205 (2017) 167–174

10th International Symposium on Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, ISHVAC2017, 19-
22 October 2017, Jinan, China

Experimental Evaluation of the Ground Source Heat Pump System


with a New Control Strategy - A Case Study in Tianjin
Tianhao Yuana,*, Neng Zhua, and Kun Yanga
a
School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China

Abstract

In order to improve the cooling performance of the ground source heat pump (GSHP) system, save the operating cost and reduce
the heat discharged into the ground soil, a new free cooling control strategy is proposed in this paper, with which the circulating
water in the ground heat exchanger is used to cool the building directly. Firstly, an office building located in Tianjin is selected.
Then, the measurement of the GSHP system is conducted during the cooling season. Finally, the experimental evaluation of the
new strategy is performed. The results show that the free cooling strategy can meet the cooling demand of the case building at the
beginning of the cooling season, there is no dewing phenomenon on the floor surface during the floor radiation free cooling
period and the average system energy efficiency ratio (EER) (with the value of 49.29) of the free cooling mode is 16.6 times that
of active cooling mode. The electricity consumption and operation cost have a great saving potential. The total heat discharged
into the ground soil is reduced largely. This will slow the performance deterioration of the GSPH system.
© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 10th International Symposium on Heating, Ventilation and Air
Peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 10th International Symposium on Heating, Ventilation and
Conditioning.
Air Conditioning.
Keywords: Ground source heat pump; Free cooling strategy; Floor radiation cooling; Experimental evaluation

1. Introduction

Building energy consumption increases rapidly with the development of society in the recent years. According to
International Energy Agency (IEA), building sector energy consumption accounts for 31% of the total primary
energy use in China [1]. As addressed by U.S. Energy Information Administration (UEI Administration), building
sector energy consumption is about 40% of the total primary energy use in the United States [2]. Another literature
reveals that building energy consumption of European uses approximately 40% of the total energy demand [3].

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 18698168721.


E-mail address: y.tianhao@163.com

1877-7058 © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 10th International Symposium on Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

1877-7058 © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 10th International Symposium on Heating, Ventilation and
Air Conditioning.
10.1016/j.proeng.2017.09.949
168 Tianhao Yuan et al. / Procedia Engineering 205 (2017) 167–174
2 Tianhao Yuan et al. / Procedia Engineering 00 (2017) 000–000

Energy use of cooling and heating system generally accounts for 40-60% of total building energy consumption.
Therefore, the reasonable selection of cooling and heating system has a great energy saving potential.
Underground soil temperature is more stable than ambient temperature. Therefore, GSHP is now a renewable
perspective technology which uses ground as a heat source or thermal sink. This system is widely used in the
building cooling and heating system because of its high energy efficiency. Moreover, there is no waste heat released
to environment. The operation energy saving of GSHP is about 25-50% compared with conventional central air
conditioning system [4]. However, the energy performance of GSHP will deteriorate year after year when annual
heat extracted from and rejected into the soil is imbalanced [5]. The reason is that the underground soil temperature
is far from the initial state.
To improve the soil thermal balance, hybrid ground source pump (HGSHP) integrated with some auxiliary
facilities, such as solar heating device, boiler, cooling tower and so on, are researched more and more in the recent
years. Capozza et al. [6] used the simulation software CaRM to investigate the GSHP thermal performances of two
office buildings in Italy, and the result shows that increasing the number of boreholes does not significantly affect
the thermal drift. Qi et al. [7] gave an overview of the status and development of different types of HGSHP systems.
Zhu et al. [8] designed a GSHP system coupled with solar seasonal storage for a new building of a campus in Tianjin.
This system is dominantly used for heating and supplying hot water. After a long test period, the results show that
the soil temperature increases by 0.21℃, the COP of the system and the heat pump unit increase by 3.4% and 2.4%,
respectively, compared with the operation data without solar seasonal storage process during last year. Liu et al. [9]
analyzed the application of a practical GSHP system coupled with gas boilers. The results show that the initial cost
of the system decreases. However, the economy, performance and reliability of the system are improved. Cui et al.
[10] used TRNSYS 16 to analyze the GSHP system coupled with a cooling tower. Both parallel and serial HGSHP
systems were studied. Moreover, the design and operation parameters of the systems were optimized at last.
HGSHP system can solve the thermal imbalance in some degree as mention in the previous studies. However, the
auxiliary facilities will increase the initial investment or still release waste heat to the environment. In addition, the
complicated system brings challenges for the stable operation of itself. A GSHP system coupled with borehole free
cooling is proposed in this paper. With this control strategy, the circulating water in the ground heat exchanger is
used to cool the building directly. The aims are to make the best use of the cold water exchanged by the outside
pipes buried in the ground soil, reduce the run-time of the GSHP unit and the amount of waste heat released into the
soil. Firstly, an office building located in Tianjin is selected. Then, the measurement of the GSHP system is
conducted during the cooling season. Finally, the experimental evaluation of the new strategy is performed.

2. Methods

2.1. Description of the building and the cooling system

The studied building is a six-story retrofitted office building with the total floor area of 5700m2 located in Tianjin,
China. The air conditioning area is about 4735m2. The south wall and the north wall are equipped with the electric
sun visors. The east, west, south and north window wall ratio are 0.4, 0.3, 0.46 and 0.33, respectively. The ground
floor is built for exhibition area, duty room and GSHP plant. The sixth floor is built for elevator machine room,
fresh air plant, pump room and activity room. The rest floors are built for office spaces. The appearance of the office
building is shown in Fig. 1.
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Fig. 1. Appearance of the office building. Fig. 2. Schematic diagram of the GSHP system cooling in summer.

The GSHP system consists of two parallel heat pumps. The nominal cooling capacity of the heat pump A is
212kW, corresponding with the electricity consumption of 40.2kW. The nominal cooling capacity of the heat pump
B is 140kW, corresponding with the electricity consumption of 24.2kW. Supply/return water temperature of heat
pump A and B during the cooling season are 7/12℃ and 14/19℃, respectively. The borehole field consists of 59
vertical ground heat exchangers. The depth of the borehole is 100m, and all the boreholes are apart by 4.5m.
Thermocouples were buried in the ground soil from 10m to 100m with the interval of 10m. The double U-tube heat
exchanger is installed inside the borehole. The outside diameter of the buried PE pipe is 32mm with the thickness of
3mm. The pump parameters of the GSHP system are listed in Table 1. The terminal facilities in this building are fan
coil units (FCU) and floor radiant coils (FRC) installed from the first floor to the fifth floor (there is a split air
conditioner for cooling the activity room of the sixth floor, but it is not often used, therefore, the sixth floor cooling
load is not considered in this paper). The fresh air units (FAU) are installed in the sixth floor to supply fresh air for
the second floor to the fifth floor. FCU, FRC and FAU have the same cooling source in this system. The schematic
diagram of the GSHP system cooling in summer is shown in Fig. 2.

Table 1. The pump parameters of the GSHP system.


Pump number Rated flow [m³/h] Rated head [m] Rated power [kW] Remark
Pump 1-1/2/3 17 29.7 2.2 One pump is reserved
Pump 2-1 40 32 7.5 Pump 2-1 is commonly used
Pump 2-2 17 44.6 4.0 Pump 2-2 is reserved
Pump 3-1/2/3 17 29.7 2.2 One pump is reserved
Pump 4-1 17 29.7 2.2 Pump 4-1 is reserved
Pump 4-2 55 24 7.5 Pump 4-2 is commonly used

In Fig. 2, there are two commonly operation modes (free and active cooling mode) of the GSHP system. At the
beginning and the end of the cooling season, the sensible cooling load and the latent cooling load of the building are
relatively small. The cold water in the buried pipes is directly sent to FRC or FCU through pump 1 or pump 2 (free
cooling mode). When the sensible cooling load and the latent cooling load of the building are rather large in the
middle of the cooling season, the heat pump A and heat pump B is continuously running to cool and dehumidify the
building at the work time (active cooling mode). This GSHP system can also use the free cooling mode to directly
precool the building at night, correspondingly, the running time of the active cooling mode in the daytime is reduced.
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2.2. Description of the building and the cooling system

The electricity consumption calculation of the GSHP system is expressed as formula (1).

Ws = Wu + W p + W fc + W fa (1)

Where Ws, Wu, Wp, Wfc and Wfa are the electricity consumption of the GSHP system, GSHP unit, circulating pump
(include the ground soil side and the demand side), fan coil unit and fresh air unit, respectively, kW.
The EER of the GSHP unit and the GSHP system are calculated by formula (2) and (3), respectively.

Qc
EERu = (2)
Wu

Qc
EERs = (3)
Ws

Where EERu and EERs are the cooling energy efficiency ratio of the GSHP unit and the GSHP system,
respectively, and Qc is the cooling capacity, kW.
The cooling capacity supplied to the building is calculated by formula (4).

G ⋅ c ⋅ ρ ⋅ (Tr − Ts )
Qc = (4)
3600

Where G is the volumetric flow rate of the chilled water, m3/h, c is the chilled water specific heat, kJ/(kg•℃), ρ
is the chilled water density, kg/m3, Tr is the return water temperature ℃, and Ts is the supply water temperature ℃.
When the GSHP unit is turned on, the total heat discharged into the ground soil by the GSHP unit is calculated by
formula (5)

n
1
Qtdu =  Qc ,i ⋅ (1 + ) (5)
i =1 EERu ,i

Where Qtdu is the total heat discharged into the ground soil by the GSHP unit, kWh, and i is the running time of
the GSHP unit, h.
When the free cooling mode is turned on, the total heat discharged into the ground soil is calculated by formula
(6) based on the hypothesis that the heat caused by the circulating pump is ignored.

n
Qtdb =  Qc ,i (6)
i =1

Where Qtdb is the total heat discharged into the ground soil by free cooling mode, kWh.
The operation cost of the GSHP system is calculated by formula (7).

n
Ct =  Ws ,i ⋅ Pi (7)
i =1
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Where Ct is the total cost of the GSHP system, RMB, Ws,i is the hourly electricity consumption of the GSHP
system, kWh, and Pi is the electricity price, RMB/kWh.
The empirical equation of Magnus formula is commonly used to calculate the value of the dew-point temperature.
It is expressed as formula (8) [11].

ϕ ⋅ es
b × log( )
100e0
Td = (8)
ϕ ⋅ es
a − log( )
100e0

Where Td is the dew-point temperature, ℃, a is the coefficient with the value of 7.69, b is the coefficient with the
value of 243.92, es is the saturated water vapor pressure, hPa, φ is the air relative humidity, %, and e0 is the saturated
water vapor pressure when the air temperature is 0℃, hPa.
The saturated water vapor pressure is calculated by formula (9) [12].

273.16 273.15 + T
log es = 10.79574 × (1 − ) − 5.02800 × log( ) + 1.50475 × 10−4
273.15 + T 273.16
−8.2969×(
273.15 +T
−1) 4.76955×(1−
273.16
) (9)
−3
×[1 − 10 273.16
] + 0.42873 × 10 × [10 273.15 +T
− 1] + 0.78614

Where T is the air temperature, ℃.

2.3. Description of the building and the cooling system

The energy monitoring platform was built once the studied building was retrofitted. Heat meters were installed in
the GSHP plant (shown in Fig. 2). Platinum nickel couples were installed on the floor surfaces from the first floor to
the fifth floor. Moreover, temperature and relative humidity monitoring elements were installed to monitor indoor
environment parameters. The electricity consumption, indoor environment parameters, water flow, supply and return
water temperature can be tested on-site. The tested data will be stored in the central servicer. In this study, the
involved data were measured on weekdays from 17 May to 19 August 2016. The floor radiation free cooling mode
was dominantly employed from 17 May to 20 June. The active cooling mode dominantly employed from 21 June to
19 August.

3. Results and discussion

The studied building is cooling dominant [13]. In this section, the effects of the floor radiation free cooling mode
and the active cooling mode are analyzed firstly. Then, two cooling strategies are compared based on the hypothesis
that the same cooling capacity is supplied by the GSHP unit from 17 May to 20 June in the weekdays. The
descriptions of the two compared strategies are summarized in Table 2. The electricity prices in different period are
provided in Table 3.

Table 2. The comparison of two cooling strategies at the beginning of the cooling season.
Strategies Descriptions Cooling period
S1 Free cooling with the borehole From 17 May to 20 June
S2 Active cooling with the GSHP unit From 17 May to 20 June
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Table 3. The electricity prices in different period.


23:00-7:00 7:00-8:00 8:00-11:00 11:00-18:00 18:00-23:00
0.382 RMB 0.6515 RMB 0.977 RMB 0.6515 RMB 0.977 RMB

During the free cooling period from 17 May to 20 June, the indoor air temperature and relative humidity are
summarized in Fig. 3.

Fig. 3. Indoor air temperature and relative humidity during the free cooling dates.

As shown in Fig. 3, when the free cooling mode is used, the indoor air temperature is main between 26℃ and
27℃, correspondingly, the relative humidity is main between 30% and 60%. The average indoor air temperature and
relative humidity are 26.6℃ and 43.3%, respectively. The indoor air temperature and relative humidity basically
meet to the indoor design conditions.
Condensation is the big problem of the floor radiation cooling system. When the floor radiation system is
selected as the cooling terminal facility, the floor surface temperature should be higher than the dew-point
temperature. The floor surface temperature, dew-point temperature, supply and return water temperature of the free
cooling mode are shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4. The dew-point temperature under the working condition.


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In Fig. 4, as the relative humidity is lower at the beginning of the free cooling, the floor surface temperature is
much higher than dew-point temperature. With the increasing of relative humidity at the end of the free cooling, the
dew-point temperature increases much more. But the floor surface temperature is still higher than dew-point
temperature. The average supply water temperature of the borehole is 16.2℃ during the test period. This means that
free cooling strategy is technically feasible and the outside borehole field is an ideal free cooling source.
The cooling energy efficiency of the free cooling mode is provided in Fig. 5. The active cooling period is from 21
June to 19 August. The cooling energy efficiency of the active cooling mode is provided in Fig. 6.

140.00 6.00
120.00 5.00
100.00
4.00
80.00
EERs

EERs
3.00
60.00
2.00
40.00
20.00 1.00

0.00 0.00
Free cooling mode Active cooling mode

Fig. 5. EERs of the free cooling mode. Fig. 6. EERs of the active cooling mode.

In Fig. 5, the EERs of the free cooling mode is mainly distributed from 37.54 to 58.35. In Fig. 6, the EERs of the
active cooling mode is mainly distributed from 2.71 to 3.12. The average EERs of the free cooling mode and the
active cooling mode are 49.29 and 2.97, respectively.
During the active cooling period, the average EERu of the GSHP units were calculated, and the value of 5.25
were obtained. The electricity consumption, operation cost and the heat rejection comparisons of strategy S1 and S2
are summarized in Table 4.

Table 4. The comparisons of strategy S1 and S2.


Strategies Electricity consumption (kWh) Operation cost (RMB) Heat rejection (kWh)
S1 490.8 360.2 17431.2
S2 6987.0 5385.7 20751.4

In Table 4, the electricity consumption, operation cost and the heat rejection of S1 are 490.8kWh, 360.2RMB and
17431.2kWh, respectively. The electricity consumption and operation cost saving of S1 are 93.0% and 93.3%,
respectively, compared with that of S2. The reduction of the total heat discharged into the ground soil of S1 is 16.0%
compared with that of S2.

4. Conclusion

A new free cooling control strategy of GSHP system is proposed in this paper, with which cold water exchanged
by the outside pipes buried in the ground soil can be used to cool the building directly. The experimental evaluation
of the new strategy is performed. The results show that the free cooling mode can meet the cooling requirement of
the studied building at the beginning of the cooling season. There is no dewing phenomenon on the floor surface
during the floor radiation free cooling period. The average system energy efficiency (with the value of 49.29) of the
free cooling mode is 16.6 times that of active cooling mode. The electricity consumption and operation cost saving
of the new operation control strategy are huge. The total heat discharged into the ground soil is reduced largely. This
will slow the performance deterioration of the GSPH system.
174 Tianhao Yuan et al. / Procedia Engineering 205 (2017) 167–174
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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Program of National Science and Technology of China during the Thirteenth
Five-year Plan (grant No. 2016YFC0700707).

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