Research and Development in Helical Steel Pile Heat Exchangers

Helical steel piles are commonly used structural elements that anchor building foundations deep in the soil. Recently, it has been demonstrated that they can be used as ground heat exchangers with ground source heat pumps (GSHPs). These dual use geo-piles (structural and thermal) have the potential to significantly reduce GSHP installation costs, leading to greater adoption of sustainable energy technology. A potential application of geo-pile heat exchangers has been identified in the remote Canadian North. Many building foundations have been weakened due to thawing permafrost associated with climate change. Geo-piles may have the potential to provide sustainable heating to buildings in northern communities, while simultaneously drawing heat out of the ground, helping to delay or remediate melting permafrost destabilization. This research seeks a detailed understanding of the operational principles and optimization methods of geo-piles and to evaluate their potential for combined heating and ground stabilization in northern Canadian regions.

Sylvie Antoun;Krystal Henry-Matthieu;Erica Attard
Faculty Supervisor: 
Seth Dworkin
Partner University: