Thermo-mechanical Behaviour of Energy Piles
Energy piles are an effective and economic means of using geothermal energy resources for heating and cooling buildings, contributing to legislative requirements for renewable energy in new construction. While such piles have been used for around 25 years with no apparent detrimental effect, there is limited understanding of their thermo-mechanical behaviour. This paper synthesises the results from three published field studies and illustrates some of the engineering behaviour of such piles during heating and cooling. Simplified load transfer mechanisms for a single pile subjected to pure thermal loadings (i.e. without mechanical load) and combined thermomechanical loadings have been developed and are used to interpret the field data with regard to change in axial stress and shaft friction during heating and cooling. The effect of end restraint and ground conditions on the thermo-mechanical response of energy piles is discussed. Values of change in axial stress and mobilised shaft friction due to thermal effects that may be useful in the design of energy piles are presented.