Multi-dimensional simulation of underground subway spaces coupled with geoenergy systems

28 Feb 2018

Old and deep subway lines suffer from overheating problems, particularly during summer, which is detrimental for passenger comfort and health. Geothermal systems could serve as one of the potential energy efficient cooling solutions, compared to energy intensive conventional cooling. The waste heat of the subway tunnel can be harnessed, to provide heating to residential and commercial blocks above the tunnels. This paper presents a multi-scale co-simulation framework for quantifying the amount of useful heat that can be extracted from overheated underground subway tunnels using geothermal heat exchangers. The co-simulation is applied and tested on a representative section of the London Underground's Central Line. The Central Line is modelled using a 1D heat and mass transfer model. The geothermal system, on the other hand, is represented using a 3D finite element model. The 1D and 3D models are co-simulated, using the subway tunnel's outer wall temperatures as boundary conditions. The model is run parametrically to identify the best arrangement and depth of geothermal heat exchangers for extracting excess heat from subway tunnels. Results show that the depth of 15 m. below the tunnel is sufficient for vertical closed loop heat exchangers to yield temperature drop of 4C in the subway tunnel and platforms. Partially insulated boreholes, alternating between extracting and injecting heat into the soil, are also assessed for their potential to provide heating and cooling demand simultaneously and improve the overall geothermal system efficiency. The heat extracted along a representative section of the tunnels is compared to the heating demand of the buildings above ground.