CFD-modelling of natural convection in a groundwater-filled borehole heat exchanger

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In design of ground-source energy systems the thermal performance of the borehole heat exchangers is important. In Scandinavia, boreholes are usually not grouted but left with groundwater to fill the space between heat exchanger pipes and borehole wall. The common U-pipe arrangement in a groundwater-filled BHE has been studied by a three-dimensional, steady-state CFD model. The model consists of a 3 m long borehole containing a single U-pipe with surrounding bedrock. A constant temperature is imposed on the U-pipe wall and the outer bedrock wall is held at a lower constant temperature. The occurring temperature gradient induces a velocity flow in the groundwater-filled borehole due to density differences. This increases the heat transfer compared to stagnant water. The numerical model agrees well with theoretical studies and laboratory experiments. The result shows that the induced natural convective heat flow significantly decreases the thermal resistance in the borehole. The density gradient in the borehole is a result of the heat transfer rate and the mean temperature level in the borehole water. Therefore in calculations of the thermal resistance in groundwater-filled boreholes convective heat flow should be included and the actual injection heat transfer rate and mean borehole temperature should be considered. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • A. -M. Gustafsson
  • L. Westerlund
  • Göran Hellström
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Sidor (från-till)683-691
TidskriftApplied Thermal Engineering
Utgåva nummer6-7
StatusPublished - 2010
Peer review utfördJa