Publication Abstract

Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference on Deep Foundations, 2014, Atlanta, GA, USA, (DFI)

Thermo-Mechanical Behavior of Energy Piles: Full-Scale Field Test Verification
Tracy Brettmann, A.H. Beck Foundation Company, Inc., Melis Sutman, and C.Guney Olgen, Virginia Tech

The use of energy piles for geothermal heat exchange has been steadily increasing during the last decade, yet there are still pending questions on their behavior during temperature changes. This paper focuses on the thermo-mechanical response of three full-scale energy piles installed in Richmond, TX. The behavior of test piles subjected to thermo-mechanical loadings was studied in situ with the aim of quantifying the thermal influence on the performance and capacity of energy piles. An extensive field test program, including conventional pile loading tests and application of heating-cooling cycles was conducted on the test piles during a period of six weeks. For thermal load applications, the heat exchanger fluid with maximum temperature of 113F (45C) and minimum of 47F (8C) was circulated in the geothermal loops placed at the center of the test piles. Optical fiber sensors, vibrating wire strain gages, thermistors and thermal integrity profile wires were installed to monitor the strain and temperature variations along the energy piles throughout the field tests. The strain and temperature profiles during heating-cooling cycles on the test piles under static loads and without a maintained load were monitored to investigate the effect of thermo-mechanical and pure thermal loads on the energy piles, respectively. Conventional pile load tests were applied before and after the application of thermal cycles. The results of the pile load tests are compared to evaluate the effect of temperature cycles on pile capacity.

 article #2001; publication #1011 (AM-2014)