Thursday, November 29, 2012

It is a - I don't know--life

There may be a better or cheaper way, but I like the idea of home geothermal heating and cooling systems.   Mostly they just drill down a fairly long way.  The hole is not very big.  Then they stick in a U shaped tube so that fluid can go down, either lose or gain heat, then go back up and exchange heat to cool or heat the home.  They do a lot of in-floor radiant heating.  Just a bunch of back and forth coils built into the floor.

That is not the only way to do it.  They also do horizontal trenches of unknown-to-me depth. Probably about 6 feet.  So, if you are burying people in the yard, you can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

The pics are from Home Geothermal Systems, LLC.   North Dakota, I think.   They apparently do this vertical thing about 180 feet straight down.  Yikes.  That works some places.

These systems can also be placed in an existing well or pond, depending upon what those venues have to offer in the way of desired heat or cooling.

Supposedly there is a three to five year payback.  That may take into account government subsidies and other garbage.  Sick.  But not everyone sees the damage that subsidies can do to innovation, and how it opens wide the door to cronyism and corruption.  Solyndra is the poster child for that.

What interests me is that a system I conceived on paper, years ago, would work well with this.  My loop was intended to be a part of another device, but also had stand alone uses.  My ex roommate, and alleged friend, Bill, saw this design, and I explained it to him.  After I was out of town, he filed for and received a patent on it, and formed a company which supported him and his family for a long time.

I discovered his theft of the idea some time later, but did not bother to take action.  I may even have the original drawings and probably could have proved my claim.  At any rate, I have no qualms about using my idea if opportunity arises.

My system was called a Heat Pipe by Bill's company.  It is a closed system with freon-like refrigerant, but uses check valves and restrictors to control the flow which is induced by the temperature differential between the extreme ends of the coil.  In the geothermal case, between the above ground temp and the below ground temp.

No motors, electricity, pulleys, or animals required.  It is a passive system which takes advantage of the low boiling point of freon, and uses it to transfer or absorb heat.  I give Bill credit for knowing a good design, and for proving the aspect of the bigger picture of which I was only 90% sure.  I thought it would work, but I always felt better when I discovered it had been proven.

The advantage of geothermal is that the temp of the earth, six feet down or so, is relatively constant year round; 68-72 deg F.  So you aren't hoping the sunshines or the wind blows.  It is low maintenance and long lasting.

My thought is that there is probably a way to do it which might require less depth than the vertical method, and less mess and excavation than some of the other installations I've seen pictured on various sites.  It is definitely something to consider when embarking on new construction.  In most places I've lived, it would make a lot of sense to install the system under the foundation.

I'm always into retro-fit.  I think finding ways to work with existing structures to fit a geothermal heating/cooling source is worth doing.  There are always what-ifs, and abundant fuel for the devil's advocate, associated with such ideas.  That is what engineering is for--knock down the obstacles.  Find a way to solve each discrepancy.   I know some people who love the role of devil's advocate.  I'm not one who does very well in that job.

Usually, there is a basic premise to such an idea--like, there is a constant heat source which can be tapped.  In this case, cooling is involved too, but it is all heat, either being transfered to the dwelling or from it.  Then the judgement is made that this would be useful if harnessed.  Then there is the how-to question, and that is where one can go to town citing potential problems.  Doesn't mean it can't be done.

Obviously, this one is being done.  There are companies with trucks and big earth drills which do nothing but geothermal work.  They do not appear to be on to my design for the coil system which is the heat transfer mechanism.  Food for thought.

I sometimes want to get involved in this just to see how sticky it would get in dealing with Bill's patent which was directly stolen from me.  I give Bill credit for making it happen, but have no respect for people who take credit for the ideas of others.  I feel certain he'd acquiesce if I had to get anything cleared through him.

It wasn't that big a surprise.  Bill was that way.  A go getter, and what Bill wanted, Bill went after, no matter the consequences to anyone else.  It is a funny brand of greed that infects certain people, and results in them wanting something so badly that they just can't let it go, even when it means crossing boundaries of decency and honor to soothe the desire.

The cool thing was that my theorized system proved to work.  I thought it would but had no tangible proof.  Thanks Bill, you crazed lunatic.

Apparently North Dakota has it going on.  Employment is up, oil is there, and they aren't as hog tied with insane nanny state PC activities as California and other places.  Then again, they don't have the disadvantage of being spoiled by good weather and nice geography the way we are in San Diego.


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