[BLDG-SIM] underground thermal energy storage for snow melt system

Xiaobing Liu XLiu at climatemaster.com
Tue Jul 18 12:03:42 PDT 2006


There have been some research/installation projects done in the US for snow melting systems that utilize ground as heat sources. The following report published by Federal Highway Administration provides detailed information about the snow melting systems for bridge decks that utilized various sources for heating, including geothermal energy in different ways. 

  Minsk, L.D. 1999. Heated Bridge Technology. Report on ISTEA Sec. 6005 Program. Report no.: FHWA-RD-99-158. July, 1999.

In some of these systems, ground source heat pumps are used to raise the fluid temperature further for better and faster snow melting performance. Depends on the design objective of the snow melting system (i.e. melt all the snow or just prevent bonding of ice), ground temperature, and thermal storage capability of the ground, it may or may not be sufficient to only use the underground thermal storage, which is similar to the vertical borehole field used for GSHP application, as the heat source. 

Oklahoma State University had also conducted some research related to the snow melting systems that utilizes geothermal energy. Numerical models for the hydronic snow melting system with different level of details have been developed. These models have been validated against measured data from lab test and/or real bridge snow melting system. These models have been added in the library of HVACSIM+. Combining the snow melting model with other component models, including vertical ground loop heat exchanger and circulation pump, simulation based studies have been conducted to investigate the impact of several design parameters on the snow melting performance. Following is the citations of a few papers resulting from the above work.

  Rees, S.J., J.D. Spitler and X. Xiao.  2002. Transient Analysis of Snow-melting System Performance. ASHRAE Transactions, 108(2): 406-423.

  Liu, X and J.D. Spitler. 2004. Simulation Based Investigation on the Design of Hydronic Snow Melting System. Transportation Research Board 83rd Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 11-15, 2004.

  Liu, X., S.J. Rees, J.D. Spitler. 2003. Simulation of a Geothermal Bridge Deck Anti-icing System and Experimental Validation. Transportation Research Board 82nd Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 12-16, 2003.

I was extensively involved in the snow melting research project at OSU. I will be happy to discuss with you more about this topic.


-----Original Message-----
From: BLDG-SIM at gard.com [mailto:BLDG-SIM at gard.com]On Behalf Of Ellen
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2006 12:38 PM
To: BLDG-SIM at gard.com
Subject: [BLDG-SIM] underground thermal energy storage for snow melt

I came across a very interesting research paper titled "PROSPECTS OF 
Iwamoto, Shigeyuki Nagasaka, Yasuhiro Hamada,
Makoto Nakamura, Kiyoshi Ochifuji, and Katsunori Nagano of Hokkaido 
University in Sapporo, Japan. The system described uses underground bore 
holes, a circulation loop, and pavement as a solar collector to store 
summer heat underground for use in winter for snow melt. The only 
energy-using device is the circulation pump. I have been unsuccessful in 
contacting the authors since my email is regarded as spam by their 

Does anyone know more about this system and/or its installation in North 
America? And there is probably a handful of you who have modeled it in 
TRNSYS or EnergyPlus, right?


Ellen Franconi, Ph.D.
Energy Analysis Group Manager
Architectural Energy Corporation 
2540 Frontier Avenue, Suite 201 
Boulder, CO 80301 
303-444-4304 fax 

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