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Re: E-M:/ seeking info on Geothermal systems



Hi Monica,

What are commonly referred to as Geothermal systems are more accurately described as ground-coupled heat pumps.

In 1996-1997 I was part of a research team at Richard Stockton College in Southern New Jersey looking at the environmental impact of a large closed-loop system. There are still many unresolved problems. The configuration of the construction can have a significant impact on the longer term efficiency of the system. It might seem great for the first 5-10 years but then the efficiency declines. Part of the reason for this in southern New Jersey is that we dumped more heat into the soil during the summer than we extracted during the winter so that you permanently change the average soil temperature.

Our research team showed that the thermal load can change the chemistry of the soil and change the conditions for the microorganisms in the soil. We documented changes in the populations of microorganisms in the soil - some grew dramatically and others died off. We documented an increased rate of leaching of salts and metals into the groundwater because of the increased temperature of the soil.

The environmental consequences can vary depending on the construction and the immediate rock/soil composition and the height of the water table. A ground-coupled heat pump system should not be constructed near a wetland.

Our research project was being funded by the Edison Electric Institute. When we reported indications of negative impacts our funding was terminated.

Brad


On Aug 2, 2005, at 1:00 PM, Monica Evans wrote:

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<x-tad-bigger>We need to replace our current furnace system by winter and are looking into the possibility of a Geothermal system. </x-tad-bigger>
<x-tad-bigger>I am wondering if anyone has one, and if they are as great as they sound.  Any environmental impacts?</x-tad-bigger>
<x-tad-bigger>How about energy conservation?  Also, I wonder about the amount of water they use and if they create an impact of aquifer levels, et.</x-tad-bigger>
<x-tad-bigger>Any info or opinions would be greatly appreciated.</x-tad-bigger>
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<x-tad-bigger>Thanks.</x-tad-bigger>
<x-tad-bigger>~Monica Evans</x-tad-bigger>
<x-tad-bigger>   Traverse Group of the Sierra Club</x-tad-bigger>
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<x-tad-bigger>'THE PIONEERS OF A WARLESS WORLD ARE THE YOUTH WHO REFUSE MILITARY SERVICE."</x-tad-bigger>
<x-tad-bigger> ~Einstein
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Brad van Guilder, Ph. D.
Community Organizer

Ecology Center
117 North Division Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1580

(734) 663-2400 ext 114
(734) 663-2414 FAX
(313) 205-6386 CELL Not available while driving!

bradvg@ecocenter.org
http://www.ecocenter.org
http://www.stoptrash.org

UAW Local 174 Environmental Committee Chair
UAW Region 1A Toxic Waste Squad