Team Members: Dana Savage, Elliot Vickers, Laura Schimmel, Madison Cleary, Montana Rivard, Nathan Ackerman
The goals of the Alternative Energy Enterprise Geothermal (AEE) group this semester were to research and develop the technical design segment of an educational exhibit for the general public on mine water geothermal heating and cooling with heat pumps. The overall exhibit will feature educational posters, two functioning heat pumps, and an iPad with interactive programming displaying real time data describing the function of the heat pumps. The technical design will include instrumentation to dynamically read temperature and electrical data from the heat pumps, a software/hardware interface to calculate the coefficient of performance (COP) of the heat pumps and display this data on an iPad, and a floor plan for the display of the heat pumps within the overall exhibit.
This exhibit is being developed in conjunction with staff of the Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP) branch of the United States National Park Service and will open in spring 2016 at the Keweenaw National Historical Park Visitor’s Center in Calumet, MI. The Keweenaw Research Center and Steve Nagy of Access, Inc. provided two half-ton ClimateMaster Tranquility 16 Compact Series Model 006 groundwater source to air heat pumps for the exhibit.
The impetus for this project is to increase awareness of mine water geothermal heating and cooling in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan, U.S.A. Using alternative energy sources often requires being taking advantage of unique to a local area. Mine water geothermal heating and cooling is a promising technology that uses heat energy from the earth to heat and cool buildings. Typically geothermal systems require extensive digging of wells or fields to access this heat energy, and this digging represents a significant portion of the installation cost of the system. The Keweenaw Peninsula has a history of mining and as a result the region has a large number of flooded mines holding millions of gallons of water. Due to geological processes, this mine water stays at approximately 54° Fahrenheit year round and is a nearly inexhaustible reservoir of geothermal energy. To install a heat pump, residents of the Keweenaw Peninsula need only lay piping to and from a mine instead of digging wells or fields, significantly reducing installation costs. The Keweenaw Peninsula also has one of the highest costs of electricity in the nation. Mine water geothermal heating and cooling requires significantly less energy use than electrical heating and reduces reliance on nonrenewable fossil fuels.