American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Advective Heat Transport in an Unconfined Aquifer Induced by the Field Injection of an Open-Loop Groundwater Heat Pump

Stefano Lo Russo and Glenda Taddia

DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2010.253.259

American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 6, Issue 3

Pages 253-259


Problem statement: The increasing diffusion of low-enthalpy geothermal open-loop Groundwater Heat Pumps (GWHP) providing buildings air conditioning requires a careful assessment of the overall effects on groundwater system, especially in the urban areas. The impact on the groundwater temperature in the surrounding area of the re-injection well is directly linked to the aquifer properties. Physical processes affecting heat transport within an aquifer include advection (or convection) and hydrodynamic thermodispersion (diffusion and mechanical dispersion). If the groundwater flows, the advective components tend to dominate the heat transfer process within the aquifer and the diffusion can be considered negligible. This study illustrates the experimental results derived from the groundwater monitoring in the surrounding area of an injection well connected to an open-loop GWHP plant which has been installed in the "Politecnico di Torino" (NW Italy) for cooling some of the university buildings. Groundwater pumping and injection interfere only with the upper unconfined aquifer. Approach: After the description of the hydrogeological setting the authors examined the data deriving from multiparameter probes installed inside the pumping well (P2), the injection well (P4) and a downgradient piezometer (S2). Data refers to the summer 2009. To control the aquifer thermal stratification some multi-temporal temperature logs have been performed in the S2. Results: After the injection of warm water in P4 the plume arrived after 30 days in the S2. That delay is compatible with the calculated plume migration velocity (1.27 m d-1) and their respective distance (35 m). The natural temperature in the aquifer due to the switching-off of the GWHP plant has been reached after two month. The Electrical Conductivity (EC) values tend to vary out of phase with the temperature. The temperature logs in the S2 highlighted a thermal stratification in the aquifer due to a low vertical dispersion of the injected warm water. Conclusion: Experimental evidences seem to confirm the prevalence of heat advective transport component respect the dispersive phenomena. This hypothesis appears validated by the following evidences: (i) the calculated advective migration velocities are compatible with the calculated retardation factor and the temperature revealed in the S2, (ii) both the groundwater and the heat tend to flow horizontally due to the different values of horizontal and vertical hydraulic conductivity in the Unit 1 (thermal stratification) and (iii) the flowing water highlighted different geochemical characteristics during the time.


© 2010 Stefano Lo Russo and Glenda Taddia. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.