Geothermal

The Mine Water Geothermal team in the past has investigated and written a guidebook for old mining communities, letting them use their abandoned mine shafts as a resource to provide clean and sustainable heating and cooling. This year's team looks to expand on this project and determine the feasibility of utilizing an old mine shaft on Michigan Tech’s campus to reduce energy costs and reduce the campus' reliance on fossil fuels.

The objective of the Mine Water Geothermal is to complete a feasibility study on the use of a mine water geothermal system to replace the existing HVAC at specific campus facilities, including the Gates Tennis Center.

The scope of this design project be to determine the feasibility of a mine water geothermal HVAC system at the Gates Tennis Center or surrounding buildings. This will entail researching the specifics of the nearby mine shafts and determining the feasibility of using the water reservoirs contained in the mines. As this water tends to stay a consistent temperature throughout the year, it can be feasible as both heating and cooling for buildings using it. A decision on one geothermal system or another will be made based off geographic and technical limitations. Lastly, a study will look into the estimated costs of a mine water system and compare them with the known costs of the existing HVAC system to determine a solution.

In regards to specifically heating and cooling the Gates Tennis Center, the benefits and drawbacks between a closed loop system and an open loop system will be considered. The team must also determine the most efficient and effective way to heat and cool the tennis center. One route is to use multiple heat pumps per space; this allows for rooms to be set at a different temperature, and can lead to cost savings in the long term. The other option is to use a central heating and cooling system, which may save money on upfront costs.

The team will consist of both mechanical and electrical engineering students in the Alternative Energy Enterprise. The multi-disciplinary approach of the team will help with peer support when determining the mathematics behind the system design. The team will be required to use heat transfer and fluid mechanics calculations to determine feasibility and sizing of the geothermal system, as well as using data processing software to establish a range of temperatures and levels associated with this unique project.