Supplemental heat rejection in ground source heat pumps for residential houses in Texas and other semi-arid regions



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Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) are efficient alternatives to air source heat pumps to provide heating and cooling for conditioned buildings. GSHPs are widely deployed in the midwest and eastern regions of the United States but less so in Texas and the southwest regions whose climates are described as being semi-arid. In these semi-arid regions, building loads are typically cooling dominated so the unbalance in energy loads to the ground, coupled with less conductive soil, cause the ground temperature to increase over time if the ground loop is not properly sized. To address this ground heating problem especially in commercial building applications, GSHPs are coupled with supplemental heat recovery/rejection (SHR) systems that remove heat from the water before it is circulated back into the ground loops. These hybrid ground source heat pump systems are designed to reduce ground heating and to lower the initial costs by requiring less number of or shallower boreholes to be drilled. This thesis provides detailed analyses of different SHR systems coupled to GSHPs specifically for residential buildings. The systems are analyzed and sized for a 2100 ft2 residential house, using Austin, Texas weather data and ground conditions. The SHR systems investigated are described by two heat rejection strategies: 1) reject heat directly from the water before it enters the ground loops and 2) reject heat from the refrigerant loop of the vapor compression cycle (VCC) of the heat pump so less heat is transferred to the water loop at the condenser of the VCC. The SHR systems analyzed in this thesis are cooling towers, optimized VCC, expanded desuperheaters and thermosyphons. The cooling towers focus on the direct heat rejection from the water loop. The VCC, desuperheater, and thermosyphon systems focus on minimizing the amount of heat rejected by the VCC refrigerant to the water loop. In each case, a detailed description of the model is presented, a parametric analysis is provided to determine the amounts of heat that can be rejected from the water loop for various cases of operation, and the practical feasibility of implementation is discussed. An economic analysis is also provided to determine the cost effectiveness of each method.