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Geothermal Heat Pump

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Introduction

A Geothermal Heat Pump is a natural,
passive heating and cooling system which can both harvest heat from the Earth
as well as transfer indoor heat back into the ground. Geothermal heat, a
naturally occurring source of heat emanating from the planet, is a clean and
highly efficient energy source compared to its more common fossil-fueled
counterparts. While initially a more costly capital investment, over the long
term, a Geothermal Heat Pump recoups these costs by providing heating and
cooling at prices far cheaper than most conventional methods. Moreover, once
these costs are recouped, every dollar thereafter is pure savings. Beyond its
financial benefit, more adoption of such systems ultimately leads to a future
which is less reliant on carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

Parts Analysis

A Geothermal Heat Pump is comprised
of a primary loop and secondary loop, a heat exchanger, compressor, air
handler, and ducts. The primary loop, which is made up of polyethylene piping
and holds refrigerant, is located in the building’s mechanical room. The
secondary loop, which is made up of polyethylene piping and holds a mixture of
water and anti-freeze, is located underground. The heat exchanger exists
between the primary loop and secondary loop, and their corresponding pumps, and
is the component which transfers the heat back and forth. A compressor is
connected to the primary loop to pressurize the refrigerant so it can better
concentrate the heat pulled from the ground. From there, an air handler, which
is typically a large metal box containing the blower, heating or cooling
elements, filters, and dampers, distributes the heat or coolness throughout the
building. The air handler is connected to the duct system and it is these ducts
that spread throughout the building to achieve even, comfortable temperatures.

Operating Principles

The Geothermal Heat Pump operates in
two cycles, the above-ground primary loop and the underground secondary loop. First,
the underground secondary loop pulls heat from the ground and into a mixture of
water and anti-freeze. Second, pumps move the mixture of water and anti-freeze
into the heat exchanger where heat can be absorbed by the primary loop. The pumps
continue to move the mixture of water and anti-freeze past heat exchanger so
the process can be repeated over and over again. Meanwhile, the heat exchanger
passes the heat from the secondary loop to the refrigerant located inside the
primary loop. From there, a compressor puts the refrigerant under pressure,
allowing the refrigerant to collect and concentrate even more heat. Finally,
the primary loop’s heat is transferred to the air handler where it can then be
circulated through the building via duct system.

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