I understand that it is essentially a loop in which a refrigerant travels around through the Earth’s interior either cooling or heating and in the end expending that temperature into a home or building. As we know, technology is always progressing and ways of becoming more innovative and efficient are always just around the corner. . So my question is. . 1. ) What are any efforts or discoveries that increase the efficiency of the energy conversion in the process of Geothermal heating and cooling? So from what I interpret, are there any new ways to make the refrigerant travel faster. . Different types of refrigerant that are more efficient. . A compressor that is able to get the job done more efficiently. . Etc. . I had an idea though, I heard different types of refrigerants may be used such as air, water. . Etc. After looking around, I learned — I agree with the prior poster that your understanding is not accurate Basically a Geothermal HVAC (or Ground Source Heat Pump) uses water or a water/antifreeze mixture in the heat exchanger. This water is either recirculated in a very long underground pipe system (closed system) or drawn from a well, lake or other water source (open system). In cooling mode (A/C) a geothermal heat pump uses refrigerant to move heat from the building into the water via a heat exchanger. In heating mode, it operates in the reverse and moves heat from the water to the refrigerant and ultimately the building. A standard heat pump operates in the same manner however instead of using ground temperature water, it uses ambient temperature outdoor air. The greatest advantages of geothermal heat pumps in a 4 season climate is that they are much more efficient than the alternative when outdoor temperatures are at their extremes. For example: When it is 25F outside, my geothermal system is pumping heat from 55F groundwater into my 70F house. (Standard system is pumping heat from 25F air into a 70F house) When it is 95F outside, my system pumps heat from my 74F house into 55F water (standard system is pumping heat into 95F air) When outdoor temps are the same as the groundwater, geothermal systems aren’t as efficient because you are powering a water pump vs a fan. In climates with 3 or less seasons, geothermal systems aren’t as efficient, especially if they are closed systems. Now to answer your question, the innovations which are increasing the efficiency of geotherm systems are the same innovations which are increasing the efficiency of standard air exchange systems. Most of the energy consumed by a HVAC system is being consumed by the the refrigerant compressor and advances in compressor motors is allowing for much greater efficiency.
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