Monday, March 20, 2023

Could groundwork for district heating also provide ground field for a heat pump system?

Picture of a chilled water plant at WSU, Pullman.

I've got to thinking that district heating and geothermal could go together well. They both use pipes in the ground.

District heating uses the pipes to bring heat, or cooling, from a central plant; like a steam plant, to buildings where the heat is used. Geothermal uses pipes through the ground to collect heat, or cooling, from the ground for buildings.

Can't the two go together?

A district heating network provides a lot of surface area of pipes in the ground between buildings. Couldn't the same tranches, or tunnels, also provide space for the refrigerant pipes of a heat pump system?

I'm not an expert on heat pumps, such as how far the pipes can be from the heat pump compressor, but there could be satellite compressors along the system that would feed hot, or cold water into the heating district distribution pipes.

Below, picture of old cooling tower for a chilled water plant they built at WWU, in Bellingham. It was built to cool some new buildings, but later discontinued. The chiller has been removed and space looks like it's used as a shop connected to WWU steam plant.

Now there are plans to eventually convert WWU's heating system to a heatpump system.

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