Geothermal Heat Pumps 101

What’s the big deal?

We’re constantly talking about how NexGen Energy is changing the face of the geothermal game with our revolutionary loop installations, but sometimes we forget to make sure everyone knows why we exist.  First, geothermal is the  most energy efficient source of heating and cooling on the planet.  Second, the required loop field could only be installed in limited locations – until now.  This begs the question, how in the world does a geothermal system actually work?

The Basics

Heat pumps are nothing new.  Do you have a refrigerator?  A refrigerator changes the pressure of a liquid, called Freon, to make it hot or cold.  Under high pressure, the Freon becomes very warm and transfers that heat to the room our the back of the fridge.  When the Freon is depressurized it gets very cold, which allows it to remove heat from the inside of the fridge. By changing the pressure of the Freon and circulating it through this closed system, heat is removed from the inside of the fridge (leaving it cold) to the outside.

In cooling mode, a geothermal heat pump uses the same idea, but on a much larger scale, and with much less waste.  Instead of throwing away the extracted heat, it circulates a liquid through a “loop” of underground pipe.  When a warm liquid is pumped into the ground, the ground absorbs heat from the liquid and it comes back up colder.  The heat is stored in the soil, and reused in the winter when the system switches to heating mode.  In heating mode, the system works in reverse.  Cold liquid is sent into the loop field where it absorbs heat from the warmer ground and comes back to the heat pump a little warmer.  The Freon is then pressurized by the heat pump and becomes very warm, and this heat is circulated around your home through your forced air duct system.



Super Efficiency!

The best fossil-fuel heating systems achieve in the mid-90’s for efficiency percentage.  Modern heat pumps can achieve 400-600% efficient.  I know what you’re thinking – 400%, impossible, someone is cheating.  Yes it’s true, we are cheating.  By using a heat pump, we are able to store and reuse the heat from the summer.  Although a heat pump does not create heat, it can move heat from one place to another very efficiently.  With a fossil-fuel system, you are paying to create the heat and run the system whereas you only pay to operate the heat pump and the heat is essentially free.  This is how such high efficiency is realized.

What About These Loops?

NexGen Energy saw a big problem with modern loop installations.  Drillers and excavators were the big players and they installed the loop fields by digging up your yard or drilling several wells connected by trenches.  NexGen Energy wants everyone to be able to take advantage of the free heat under their feet, and these loop fields were a big problem.  Our self-driving loops could be installed on small lots, directly from the basement, which allows almost anyone to capture geothermal energy!



NexGen Energy’s self-driving loop technology is allowing ground-source heating applications to be installed almost anywhere!  Please visit our website or join the discussion on Facebook.  You can also leave a comment on this post if you have any thoughts or questions.

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