There are two ways to install a “vertical” loop field. You can use heavy drilling equipment (horizontal or vertical), or you can use the NexGen Energy loop installation system. The NexGen system is installed a in a “radial” pattern looks like the frame of a tepee under your basement (see more here), so it isn’t actually a “vertical” system per say.
The primary difference between traditional drilling methods and the NexGen system lies in how the bore hole is formed. Traditionally drilling methods use their drill rig to bore a hole into the ground. The drill is then removed from the hole being held open with drill mud. Then when a drill bore hole is used for a geothermal system, the installer will insert a U-shaped loop into the hole. Since the loop is smaller than the bore hole, the driller will use grout to fill in and seal any gaps.
The NexGen loop installation system is installed with a proprietary air-powered jackhammer in a tube. The hammer pulls the pipe deep into the ground as it displaces the soil. Since the hammer is the same width as the pipe that it is pulling, there is no gap to fill in! This close contact directly with the soil also allows for maximum heat transfer. Once the hammer has reached the desired depth, a smaller tube is inserted inside the larger tube to create a loop for fluid to flow through.
No matter how the loop field is installed, the loops will connect to a central manifold that a geothermal heat pump will use to cycle fluid through the loops and extract the heat from the ground. NexGen energy believes that this simplified loop installation method will help make geothermal a more feasible solution for homeowners and expand the reach of the entire industry.