Towards a secure basis for the design of geothermal piles
Using pile foundations as heat exchangers with the ground provides an efficient and reliable energy source for the heating and cooling of buildings. However, thermal expansion or contraction of the concrete brings new challenges to the design of such structures. The present study investigates the impact of a temperature variation on the mobilized bearing capacities of geothermal piles. The mechanisms driving the variations and redistribution of mobilized bearing forces along geothermal piles are identified using Thermo-Pile software. The EPFL and Lambeth College test piles are modelled and analysed as real scale experiments. Three simple representative cases are used to investigate the impact of over-sizing geothermal piles on their serviceability. It is found that the mechanisms responsible for the variations and redistribution of mobilised bearing forces along the piles are unlikely to cause geotechnical failure, even if the ultimate bearing force of a pile is reached. Furthermore, over-sizing geothermal piles compared to conventional piles can have a negative impact on their serviceability.