Applications of low enthalpy geothermal energy: the case of the faculty of physical and mathematical sciences at the university of Chile

Applications of low enthalpy geothermal energy: the case of the faculty of physical and mathematical sciences at the university of Chile



Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, University of Chile, Chile

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In recent decades, the industry has observed a significant shift towards the use of renewable energy, such as solar, wind and geothermal. The Chilean scenario has not been an exception, and much pro- gress has been made in sustainable energy prospection and implementation, especially in the electricity sector, where solar and wind power amount 2300 MW, and since April 2017, the first geothermal power plant (48 MW) has come into operation. In the area of low enthalpy geothermal energy, the use is around 19 MW.

The Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Chile has been contributing to this transformational process, with its Sustainable Campus initiative. The first step of this initiative is the introduction of renewable energy on site, which has been achieved through the installation of a solar photovoltaic plant of 15 kW. Along this line, the design and implementation of a geothermal air conditioning system (HAVC) is underway, which will serve the classrooms and offices in the tradi- tional engineering building of the campus. The technology to be used in this project is the Ground Heat Pump (GHP).

The present paper includes an introduction of the applications of low enthalpy geothermal energy in Chile, a description of the Office of Engineering for Sustainable Development at the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and the design of a geothermal HAVC system in the university campus, considering economic, environmental, technical and social aspects. Besides the operation of the GHP, the system will be used for teaching purposes to incorporate sustainable development in the curriculum of the university. The expected savings of the geothermal system versus an aerothermal design are 41,070 kWh annually, considering both cooling and heating.


Geothermal energy, renewable energy, sustainable university campus


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