Experimental evaluation of a cooling radiant wall coupled to a ground heat exchanger
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A building prototype was built in the experimental set-up located in Puigverd de Lleida (Spain) to study the energy performance of a radiant wall with ventilated facade cooled with a ground coupled heat-exchanger. The installed geothermal heat pump operates only as a ground coupled heat exchanger on cooling mode, thus providing free-cooling. In this case, only the circulation pumps consume power. The summer experimental campaign showed the energy savings potential and the peak load shifting ability of the system. On continuous operation and taking as reference a cubicle equipped with a conventional air-to-air heat pump, the radiant wall cooled with the ground coupled heat-exchanger achieved savings up to 54.17% and 82.08% at set-point temperatures of 24 °C and 26 °C, respectively. The thermal storage capacity of the system was studied in night charging test, when the cubicles were pre-cooled during night-time. During the day, the temperature raise caused by heat loads was small and the system kept the temperature inside comfort range despite it only operated overnight. However, the performance was very sensitive to set-point temperature. Free-cooling was limited by the temperatures in the boreholes, showing that with lower set-points the gradient between supply temperature and room temperature was small, and thus it required a higher water flow to achieve the necessary cooling power. Intermittent operation of the system according to different schedules also affected the radiant walls performance as they interacted with the thermal inertia of the system, which could even have a negative impact on energy use.