IGS researchers have received funding from the U.S. Dept. of Energy to install monitoring sites throughout Indiana to collect data related to shallow subsurface temperatures and thermal properties of unconsolidated sediments. The data will be made publically available and are intended to help facilitate the improved design of ground-source heat pumps, which can have varying performance based on seasonal variations in soil moisture and temperature regimes.
The Indiana Shallow Geothermal Monitoring Network: A test bed for facilitating the optimization of ground-source heat pumps in the glaciated Midwest
Shallow geothermal energy represents a significant renewable resource that can be further developed via ground-source heat pumps (GSHP), the costs of which can be minimized by allowing designers and installers to make decisions about construction technologies that take into account the appropriate thermal properties and predominant moisture regime of the geologic material being utilized. A comprehensive monitoring network that provides in-situ measurements of shallow subsurface thermal conductivity, temperature gradients, and soil moisture has not been developed to date.
The study entails collecting continuous measurements of 1) thermal gradients in the upper 6 feet of the ground, 2) thermal conductivity, and 3) volumetric moisture content at six monitoring sites near the two largest population centers in Indiana (Indianapolis and Fort Wayne). The determination of thermal properties for typical unconsolidated sediments that are present in the glaciated portion of Indiana will support the design of more efficient systems by allowing GSHP installers to efficiently tailor the configurations of their in-ground systems to specific geologic settings and account for seasonal changes.