Thermal behaviour of soils and rocks

 

We specialise in understanding the fundamental behaviour of soils and rocks when subject to extreme temperatures, both freezing and very high. The applications we focus on are artificially frozen soils, permafrost and geothermal energy.

 
  • Frozen soils and permafrost

Whether artificially frozen ground to enable underground construction or the study of permafrost behaviour and its interaction with structures, we use the state-of-the-art FrostLabor where we can undertake element and model tests at temperature up to -30° from preparation to final testing. Additionally, we can work on numerical tools to model the complex behaviour of this type of soil.

Past and current projects:

Energetische Einsparpotentiale beim Vereisungsverfahren

Untersuchung und Berechnung der Frosthebungen für die speziellen Randbedingungen einer Baugrundvereisung

Publications:

Schüller, 2015

Niggemann, 2020

  Triaxial test setup for hydraulic fracturing experiments (left), split specimen with colored fracture surface from injection fluid (right) Copyright: © GUT RWTH Triaxial test setup for hydraulic fracturing experiments (left), split specimen with colored fracture surface from injection fluid (right)
  • Geothermal energy

A very active area at the Institute for a long time, we have the ability to carry out coupled hydro-thermal-mechanical tests in soils and rocks, in large samples, as well as coupled numerical models. We study both high-entropy applications such as energy production, and low-entropy for heating and cooling of buildings and districts.

Institute of Geomechanics and Underground Technology (GUT) is equipped with an in-house developed, state of the art testing facility which allows hydraulic fracturing experiments with 30cm×30cm×45cm sized samples under true triaxial stress conditions. The test setup is used to generate laboratory-scale benchmark datasets for verifying and improving numerical codes for field stimulation designs.

Past and current projects:

Entwicklung eines Werkzeugs zur Auslegung von HDR-Risssystemen
GEMex: Cooperation in Geothermal energy research Europe-Mexico for development of Enhanced Geothermal Systems and Superhot Geothermal Systems

Spannungsprofilierung in verbesserten geothermischen Systemen (SPINE)

Publications:

Siebert et al., 2015

Deb et al., 2020

Heider et al., 2018

  Energy sheet pile (left); smouldering mining dump (right) Copyright: © GUT RWTH Energy sheet pile (left); smouldering mining dump (right)

Geothermal systems such as thermally activated piles, concrete or sheet pile walls are receiving more and more attention in the context of the energy transition. In order to exploit these previously untapped potentials, various calculation methods have been developed and validated with large scale lab and field tests. Another potential, yet not exploited energy source are smouldering mining dumps. Besides this, more conventional systems such as borehole heat exchangers and their design and interaction with system components such as heat pumps are also an object of research.

Past and current projects:

Geothermal Utilization of Smoldering Mining Dumps

Monitoring eines Pilotprojektes als Grundlage zur Auslegung und Bemessung von thermisch aktiven Spundwänden für eine Erschließung des großen regenerativen Energiepotentials offener Gewässer

Entwicklung einer Software zur Berechnung der Erdwärmenutzung mittels thermo-aktiver Abdichtungselemente an erdberührenden flächigen Bauteilen

GeTIS - Geothermisches Informationssystem zur Bemessung, Modellierung, Bewertung und Genehmigung vernetzter geothermischer Energiesysteme auf Gebäude- und Stadtquartiersebene

Publications:

Fuentes et al., 2016

Kürten et al., 2015

Koppmann et al., 2018

Düber et al., 2019

Publications
(Siebert et al., 2015; Deb et al., 2020, Deb et al., 2021; Heider et al., 2018)

Past Projects:

Development of a design tool for HDR fracture systems

GEMex: Cooperation in Geothermal energy research Europe-Mexico for development of Enhanced Geothermal Systems and Superhot Geothermal Systems

Current Projects:

Stress Profiling in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (SPINE)

Publications
(Fuentes et al., 2016; Ziegler et al., 2019; Kürten et al., 2015; Kürten et al., 2013)

Past Projects:

Geothermal Utilization of Smoldering Mining Dumps

Monitoring of a pilot project as a basis for the design and dimensioning of thermally active sheet piles for exploiting the large regenerative energy potential of open waters

Development of software for the calculation of geothermal heat utilisation by means of thermo-active sealing elements on ground-contacting building components

GeTIS - Geothermal information system for dimensioning, modelling, evaluation and approval of linked geothermal energy systems on building and urban district level

Publications
(Fuentes et al., 2016)