Numerical analysis of seasonal heat storage in an energy pile foundation
The use of concrete geostructures for energy extraction and storage in the ground is an environmentally friendly and easy way of cooling and heating buildings. With such energy geostructures, it is possible to transfer energy from the ground to buildings by means of fluid-filled pipes cast in concrete. By injecting thermal energy in summer and extracting it in winter, the ground in the area of a building’s piles can be used for seasonal energy storage, as long as the underground water flow in the storage remains low. This paper is a contribution to the improvement of the knowledge in the field of energy geostructures. The behaviour of a multi-pile seasonal storage system subjected to thermo-mechanical loading is examined numerically from both thermal and mechanical perspectives. The purpose of this paper is (i) to propose a thermo-hydro-mechanical 2D solution to the 3D problem, (ii) to explore the thermal behaviour of this type of storage and (iii) to evaluate its structural consequences. Coupled multi-physical finite element modelling is conducted. The efficiency of the storage is not dramatically affected by an increase in the annual mean temperature of the storage. It is shown that induced mechanical loads are less important when considering a wholly heated pile structure than when considering a single heated pile in a foundation. The evolution of stresses in the piles and in the soil during heating–cooling cycles also reveals possible critical phenomena.