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Custom software tools case study - performance of earth-air heat exchangers for Polypipe and WSPMarch 2014

The challenge

Polypipe has developed a range of reinforced polyethylene pipes for use as earth-air heat exchangers. They and their partners WSP required a software tool to calculate the heating and cooling benefits of a heat exchanger made from the pipes, hour-by-hour using hourly air temperature data for locations across the UK and for a range of soil types.

The solution

The computer modelling experts at BSRIA created a software tool for Polypipe and WSP which calculates hourly and yearly heating and cooling benefits in seconds. The user interface is intuitive and familiarisation takes only a few moments. The interface has tabs for:

  • specifying the length, depth and number of pipes
  • selecting the soil type and the diameter of the pipes
  • selecting the hourly air temperature data from a database
  • specifying the air volume flow rate, the building set-point temperature, and the rules by which the fan switches itself on or off in accordance with the set-point temperature, the atmospheric air temperature and the heat exchanger outlet temperature
  • displaying plots of heating and cooling benefit over the course of a whole year
  • displaying plots of heating and cooling benefit over the course of a single day that the user selects from a calendar control.

The user’s input can be saved to a text file and read back into the software, and the plot data can be exported to an excel file.

The benefits

The software tool provides Polypipe and WSP with a rapid method of assessing the benefits of an earth-air heat exchanger, given the soil type and the location, layout and operating rules of the heat-exchanger.

For more information on the project to deliver a unique earth tube project as part of the redevelopment of a Hounslow primary school, visit the Polypipe website.

BSRIA provides a range of design support services, including the development of software tools for quick problem solving and decision making.  Contact us on 01344 465578 or email design@bsria.co.uk to discuss.


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