Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Renewable Energy at Catoctin Creek
As construction begins at Catoctin Creek Park, I would like to introduce you to one of the many "Green" technologies that is being implemented at this facility. Catoctin Creek Nature Center will have what is called "Geothermal" heating and cooling technology.
A geothermal heat pump or ground source heat pump is a central heating and/or cooling system that pumps heat to or from the ground. It uses the earth as a heat source (in the winter) or a heat sink (in the summer). This design takes advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems.
Geothermal heat pumps are also known by a variety of other names, including geoexchange, earth-coupled, earth energy or water-source heat pumps. The engineering and scientific communities prefer the terms "geoexchange" or "ground source heat pumps" because geothermal traditionally refers to heat originating from deep in the Earth's mantle. Ground source heat pumps harvest a combination of geothermal power and heat from the sun when heating, but work against these heat sources when used for air conditioning.
Geothermal technology is very energy-efficient because underground temperatures are more stable than air temperatures through the year. Seasonal variations drop off with depth and disappear below seven meters. Like a cave, the shallow ground temperature is warmer than the air above during the winter and cooler than the air in the summer. A ground source heat pump extracts ground heat in the winter (for heating) and transfers heat back into the ground in the summer (for cooling). Some systems are designed to operate in one mode only, heating or cooling, depending on climate.
Visitors to the new Catoctin Creek Nature Center will enjoy educational opportunities such as learning more about Geothermal technology and how this and other environmental technologies are being implemented.