Title:
Geothermal Exchange System Using A Thermally Superconducting Medium With A Refrigerant Loop
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A geothermal exchange system is couplable to a ground coil formed from a thermal superconductor material, and transfers heat using a refrigerant loop. The device includes a compressor, a reversible refrigerant loop with two heat exchangers, one of which couplable to a thermal superconductor ground loop. The device uses a high thermal transfer superconductor to efficiently move heat to and from the earth source for the purpose of heating and cooling. The device operates in cooling or heating modes by controlling the thermal switches and activating the heat intensification circuit in response to the difference between a set point and a measured temperature. Alternatively, the system can be configured for heating only or cooling only modes, by operating the refrigerant loop in one direction.



Inventors:
Mueller, Lynn (Richmond, CA)
Graham, John (Vancouver, CA)
Todd, David (Vancouver, CA)
Application Number:
11/559889
Publication Date:
12/27/2007
Filing Date:
11/14/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/260, 432/62
International Classes:
F24J3/08; F25B30/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KOAGEL, JONATHAN BRYAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCANDREWS HELD & MALLOY, LTD (500 WEST MADISON STREET SUITE 3400, CHICAGO, IL, 60661, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A geothermal exchange system employing a refrigerant loop with high heat transfer superconductor couplable to earth source, the system comprising: (a) a compressor; (b) a first heat exchanger and a second heat exchanger, each of said heat exchangers adapted to function interchangeably as an evaporator and a condenser, wherein said first heat exchanger is operable as an evaporator and said second heat exchanger is operable as a condenser when said system is operating in a cooling mode, and wherein said first heat exchanger is operable as a condenser and said second heat exchanger is operable as an evaporator when said system is operating in a heating mode; (c) at least one first conduit in communication with said compressor and each of said heat exchangers and adapted for carrying refrigerant through said system to each of said heat exchangers, said at least one conduit including a return conduit for carrying refrigerant gas back to said compressor; (d) a reversing valve in communication with said at least one conduit and configured to reverse the flow of refrigerant from said compressor to said heat exchangers depending upon whether said system is operating in said cooling mode or said heating mode; (e) at least one of: (1) an above-ground thermal superconductor segment thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger; (2) a thermal interconnect thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger, and thermally couplable to a thermal superconductor segment such that heat transfer losses are less than 20%; whereby, when said system is operating in heating mode, said valve is activated to direct refrigerant pumped from said compressor through said at least one conduit to said first heat exchanger where said refrigerant gas is condensed into liquid, through said return conduit to said second heat exchanger where said liquid is vaporized into gas and heat is efficiently transferred from earth source through at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect, and back to said compressor via said return conduit; and whereby, when said system is operating in cooling mode, said valve is activated to direct refrigerant pumped from said compressor through said at least one conduit to said second heat exchanger where said refrigerant gas is condensed into liquid and heat is efficiently transferable to earth source through at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect, through said return conduit to said first heat exchanger wherein said liquid is vaporized into gas, and back to said compressor via said return conduit.

2. The geothermal exchange system of claim 1, further comprising at least one exterior thermally superconducting ground coil formed from a high heat transfer superconducting material, extending below a surface of earth allowing passive thermal conduction to the earth source and couplable to at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect.

3. The geothermal exchange system of claim 1, further comprising a thermostat controller associated with said first heat exchanger and in communication with said reversing valve and said compressor, for controlling the valve and resultant heating or cooling mode in response to the difference between a desired temperature set point and a measured temperature set point received by the thermostat.

4. The geothermal exchange system of claim 1, wherein said thermal superconductor material is an inorganic high heat transfer medium.

5. The geothermal exchange system of claim 4, wherein said high heat transfer medium is applied in a sealed heat transfer pipe.

6. The geothermal exchange system of claim 5, wherein said heat transfer pipe containing said high heat transfer medium is insulated above ground along a heat transfer segment extending up to said thermal coupling to said second heat exchanger, said heat transfer pipe having thermal conductivity greater than 100 times the thermal conductivity of silver, and substantially negligible heat loss along said heat transfer segment.

7. The geothermal exchange system of claim 3, further comprising a blower positioned proximal to said first heat exchanger, and wherein said thermostat controller is connected to said blower to control operation in response to the difference between said set point and said measured temperature for the purpose of heating and cooling inside air.

8. The geothermal exchange system of claim 3, further comprising an auxiliary heat exchanger coupled to said first heat exchanger, for the purpose of exchanging heat from or to said geothermal exchange system.

9. The geothermal exchange system of claim 7, wherein said first heat exchanger is coupled to a sealable insulated enclosure, for the purpose of refrigerating the interior of said enclosure.

10. The geothermal exchange system of claim 3, further comprising a secondary interior heat exchanger coupled to said first heat exchanger, for the purpose of exchanging heat in one of said heating and cooling modes.

11. The geothermal exchange system of claim 10, wherein said secondary heat exchanger uses liquid for heat transfer.

12. The geothermal exchange system of claim 11, wherein said liquid is water used for floor heating of said interior space.

13. The geothermal exchange system of claim 11, wherein said liquid is water used for domestic purposes.

14. The geothermal exchange system of claim 11, wherein said liquid is greywater used for heat recovery.

15. The geothermal exchange system of claim 7, further comprising: a first enclosure housing said compressor, said second heat exchanger, said controller and said reversing valve; and a second enclosure housing said first heat exchanger and said blower positioned proximal to said segment, and having at least one vent formed therein; wherein said first enclosure has openings formed therein to couple at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect, conduits and control lines, and said first enclosure and said second enclosure are connected by said conduit and control wires from said blower.

16. The geothermal exchange system of claim 7, further comprising: a first enclosure housing said compressor, controller means and reversing valve, a second enclosure housing said first heat exchanger and said blower positioned proximal to said segment, and having at least one vent formed therein; and a ground loop enclosure housing said second heat exchanger; wherein said first enclosure has openings formed therein to couple to at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect, conduits and control lines, and said first enclosure and said second enclosure are connected by said conduit and control wires from said blower, and said ground loop enclosure housing is connected to said first enclosure housing by said conduit.

17. The geothermal exchange system of claim 3, further comprising an enclosure housing said compressor, said thermostat, said first and second heat exchangers, said blower, and having at least one vent formed therein, wherein said enclosure has at least one opening formed therein for at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect to couple to said second heat exchanger, power source connections, and a water drain line.

18. The geothermal exchange system of claim 3, further comprising: a first enclosure housing said compressor, said thermostat, said first heat exchanger, said blower, and having at least one vent formed therein; a second enclosure housing said second heat exchanger; wherein said second enclosure has at least one opening formed therein for at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect to couple to said second heat exchanger.

19. The geothermal exchange system of claim 7, further comprising a thermal mass contacting both above ground superconductor and said second heat exchanger, to indirectly transfer heat between both.

20. The geothermal exchange system of claim 2, wherein at least a portion of said thermal superconductors are formed in discrete segments joined by substantially short thermally conducting joiners.

21. The geothermal exchange system of claim 3, further comprising a receiver connected to said thermostat controller and a remote control for communicating information with said receiver such that thermostat set points and operations are wirelessly controllable.

22. A heating device using an efficient geothermal system with high heat transfer superconductor couplable to earth source, the device comprising: (a) a compressor; (b) a first heat exchanger and a second heat exchanger, wherein said first heat exchanger is operable as an evaporator and said second heat exchanger is operable as a condenser in a cooling mode; (c) at least one first conduit in communication with said compressor and first heat exchanger and adapted for carrying refrigerant through said system to each of said heat exchangers, said at least one conduit including a return conduit for carrying refrigerant gas back to said compressor from said second heat exchanger; (d) at least one of: (1) an above ground thermal superconductor segment thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger; and (2) a thermal interconnect thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger, and thermally couplable to a thermal superconductor segment such that heat transfer losses are less than 20%; whereby refrigerant is pumped from said compressor through said at least one conduit to said second heat exchanger where said refrigerant gas is condensed into liquid and heat is efficiently transferred to earth source through at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect, said refrigerant transfers through said return conduit to said first heat exchanger wherein said liquid is vaporized into gas, and back to said compressor via said return conduit.

23. The heating device of claim 22, further comprising at least one exterior thermally superconducting ground coil formed from a high heat transfer superconducting material, extending below a surface of earth allowing passive thermal conduction to the earth source and couplable to at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect.

24. The heating device of claim 22, further comprising a thermostat controller associated with said first heat exchanger and in communication with said compressor, for controlling the operation of the compressor in response to the difference between a desired temperature set point and a measured temperature set point received by the thermostat.

25. The heating device of claim 22, wherein said thermal superconductor material is an inorganic high heat transfer medium.

26. The heating device of claim 25, wherein said high heat transfer medium is applied in a sealed heat transfer pipe.

27. The heating device of claim 26, wherein said heat transfer pipe containing said high heat transfer medium is insulated above ground along a heat transfer segment extending up to said thermal coupling to said second heat exchanger, said heat transfer pipe having thermal conductivity greater than 100 times the thermal conductivity of silver, and substantially negligible heat loss along said heat transfer segment.

28. The heating device of claim 24, further comprising a blower positioned proximal to said first heat exchanger, and wherein said thermostat controller is connected to said blower to control operation in response to the difference between said set point and said measured temperature for the purpose of cooling inside air.

29. The heating device of claim 22, further comprising an auxiliary heat exchanger coupled to said first heat exchanger, for the purpose of exchanging auxiliary heat.

30. The heating device of claim 29, wherein said secondary heat exchanger uses liquid for heat transfer.

31. The heating device of claim 30, wherein said liquid is water used for floor heating of said interior space.

32. The heating device of claim 30, wherein said liquid is water used for domestic purposes.

33. The heating device of claim 30, wherein said liquid is greywater used for heat recovery.

34. The heating device of claim 28 further comprising an enclosure housing said compressor, said thermostat, said first and second heat exchangers, said blower, and having at least one vent formed therein, wherein said enclosure has at least one opening formed therein for at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect to couple to said second heat exchanger, power source connections, and a water drain line.

35. The heating device of claim 28, further comprising, a first enclosure housing said compressor, said second heat exchanger and said controller; and a second enclosure housing said first heat exchanger and said blower positioned proximal to said segment, and having at least one vent formed therein; wherein said first enclosure has openings formed therein to couple at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect, conduits and control lines, and said first enclosure and said second enclosure are couplable by at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect and control wires from said blower.

36. The heating device of claim 22, further comprising an a thermal mass contacting both above ground superconductor and said second heat exchanger, to indirectly transfer heat between both.

37. The heating device of claim 23, wherein at least a portion of said thermal superconductors are formed in discrete segments joined by substantially short thermally conducting joiners.

38. The heating device of claim 24, further comprising a receiver connected to said thermostat controller and a remote control for communicating information with said receiver such that thermostat set points and operations are wirelessly controllable.

39. A cooling device employing an efficient geothermal system with a high heat transfer superconductor couplable to earth source, the device comprising: (a) a compressor; (b) a first heat exchanger and a second heat exchanger, wherein said first heat exchanger is operable as an evaporator and said second heat exchanger is operable as a condenser in a cooling mode; (c) at least one first conduit in communication with said compressor and first heat exchanger and adapted for carrying refrigerant through said system to each of said heat exchangers, said at least one conduit including a return conduit for carrying refrigerant gas back to said compressor from said second heat exchanger; (d) at least one of: (1) an above ground thermal superconductor segment thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger; and (2) a thermal interconnect thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger, and thermally couplable to thermal superconductor segment such that heat transfer losses are less than 20%; whereby refrigerant is pumped from said compressor through said at least one conduit to said second heat exchanger where said refrigerant gas is condensed into liquid and heat is efficiently transferred to earth source through at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect, said refrigerant transfers through said return conduit to said first heat exchanger wherein said liquid is vaporized into gas, and back to said compressor via said return conduit.

40. The cooling device of claim 39, further comprising at least one exterior thermally superconducting ground coil formed from a high heat transfer superconducting material, extending below a surface of earth allowing passive thermal conduction to the earth source and couplable to at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect.

41. The cooling device of claim 39, further comprising a thermostat controller associated with said first heat exchanger and in communication with said compressor, for controlling the operation of the compressor in response to the difference between a desired temperature set point and a measured temperature set point received by the thermostat.

42. The cooling device of claim 39, wherein said thermal superconductor material is an inorganic high heat transfer medium.

43. The cooling device of claim 42, wherein said high heat transfer medium is applied in a sealed heat transfer pipe.

44. The cooling device of claim 43, wherein said heat transfer pipe containing said high heat transfer medium is insulated above ground along a heat transfer segment extending up to said thermal coupling to said second heat exchanger, said heat transfer pipe having thermal conductivity greater than 100 times the thermal conductivity of silver, and substantially negligible heat loss along said heat transfer segment.

45. The cooling device of claim 41, further comprising a blower positioned proximal to said first heat exchanger, and wherein said thermostat controller is connected to said blower to control operation in response to the difference between said set point and said measured temperature for the purpose of cooling inside air.

46. The cooling device of claim 39, wherein said first heat exchanger is coupled to a sealable insulated enclosure, for the purpose of refrigerating the interior of said enclosure.

47. The cooling device of claim 41, further comprising an enclosure housing said compressor, said thermostat, said first and second heat exchangers, said blower, and having at least one vent formed therein, wherein said enclosure has at least one opening formed therein for at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect to couple to said second heat exchanger, power source connections, and a water drain line.

48. The cooling device of claim 22, further comprising: a first housing said compressor, said second heat exchanger and said controller; and a second enclosure housing said first heat exchanger and said blower positioned proximal to said segment, and having at least one vent formed therein, wherein said first enclosure has openings to couple at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect, conduits and control lines, and said first enclosure and said second enclosure are couplable by at least one of said thermal superconductor and said thermal interconnect and control wires from said blower.

49. The cooling device of claim 40, further comprising an a thermal mass contacting both above ground superconductor and said second heat exchanger, to indirectly transfer heat between both.

50. The cooling device of claim 40, wherein at least a portion of said thermal superconductors are formed in discrete segments joined by substantially short thermally conducting joiners.

51. The cooling device of claim 41, further comprising a receiver connected to said thermostat controller and a remote control for communicating information with said receiver such that thermostat set points and operations are wirelessly controllable.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to geothermal cooling systems, and more particularly to a geothermal cooling device coupled with a superconducting heat transfer element for use as an air conditioner.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Ground source heat pump systems, also known geothermal or geoexchange systems, have been used for heating and cooling buildings for more than half a century. In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency evaluated all available heating and cooling technologies and concluded that ground source heat pump systems were the most energy efficient systems available in the consumer marketplace.

Conventional ground source heat pump systems operate on a simple principle. In the heating mode they collect heat energy from the ground and transfer it to a heat pump, which concentrates the heat and transfers it to a building's heat distribution system which in turn heats the building. In the cooling mode, heat from the building is collected by the cooling system and transferred to the heat pump, which concentrates the energy and transfers it to a ground source loop, which transfers the heat to the ground. In both modes, only a small amount of the heat comes from the electricity that runs the compressor; most of the heating and cooling energy comes from the ground. This allows ground source heat pump systems to achieve more than 100% efficiency: every unit of electrical energy consumed by the heat pump produces more useable heat than an electrical resistance heater can produce with the same unit of electricity.

Even though ground source heat pump systems achieve efficiencies of up to 350% compared to less than 100% for many conventional systems, they have been slow to penetrate the consumer marketplace because of high capital costs, high installation costs, difficult installation procedures and low energy cost savings due to historically low energy prices.

These high capital and installation costs have largely been due to fundamental inefficiencies in the ground loop subsystem. In a typical installation, the ground loop consists of hundreds or thousands of feet of looped plastic piping buried in deep trenches or deep holes drilled into the ground. An antifreeze solution is pumped through this loop to absorb heat energy from the ground (in the heating mode) or transfer heat energy to the ground (in the cooling mode.) Few installations have sufficient available land for trenching so loops are most commonly installed in deep holes and this makes them relatively expensive for several reasons.

First, each loop consists of a supply and return line, which should fit down the same hole. With an outer diameter of an inch or more for each pipe and a tendency for these pipes to bow away from each other due to the plastic material's memory of being coiled for shipment, the hole should typically have a diameter of 4 to 6 inches to allow the loop to be installed. Holes of this size are relatively expensive to drill and require heavy equipment that disrupts landscaping, making it expensive to retrofit existing homes. Holes of this size also leave large voids around the loop that should be filled with materials such as bentonite clay in order for heat to transfer from the ground to the loop, which adds significantly to the cost of installation.

Second, having both supply and return lines in the same hole results in thermal “short circuiting” which reduces the efficiency of the loop. In the heating mode, for example, cool fluid from the heat pump absorbs heat from the ground as it goes down the supply line in the hole, cooling the ground around the pipe. When the warmed fluid comes back up the hole in the return line, it passes through the ground that was just cooled, losing some of the heat it has just picked up. This lowers the efficiency of the loop so the loop should be made longer to compensate, adding to the cost of drilling and piping.

Third, for the ground loop to function, the antifreeze solution should be pumped through hundreds or thousands of feet of small diameter piping. This consumes a significant amount of electric energy, lowering the overall efficiency of the system.

In recent years, a new ground source heat pump technology has evolved to overcome some of the inefficiencies of conventional systems. This technology, called “direct geoexchange,” replaces the conventional plastic ground loop with a small-diameter copper loop. Instead of an antifreeze solution, direct geoexchange systems pump a refrigerant through the loop to pick up heat from the ground or give off heat to the ground in the same way that conventional ground loops function.

Direct geoexchange has some significant advantages over conventional systems. First, the direct geoexchange loop runs directly to and from the heat pump's compressor, eliminating the heat exchanger that is required by conventional systems to transfer heat from the loop to the heat pump. Second, the small diameter of the direct exchange loop makes it possible for loops to be installed in smaller diameter holes in the ground; this reduces the cost of drilling and backfilling the holes and reduces the size of the drill rig required to drill the holes, decreasing damage to landscaping in retrofit applications. Third, the copper pipes used in direct geoexchange transfer heat more efficiently to and from the ground so the total length of loop required is typically less than conventional systems. Because of these improvements, direct geoexchange systems can be cheaper than conventional ground source systems and more energy efficient.

In spite of these inherent advantages, direct geoexchange also has some significant disadvantages. First, both supply and return pipes run in the same hole, so the thermal short circuit problems of conventional systems remain. Second, the loop system pumps much more refrigerant through many more feet of piping past many more connections than conventional systems, so the potential for refrigerant leaks is increased. Third, direct geoexchange requires large volumes of refrigerant to flow through the loop, behaving differently in the heating and cooling modes, and requiring additional refrigerant reservoirs and flow control systems to compensate. Because of these inefficiencies, direct geoexchange is only able to achieve a modest improvement in total energy efficiency over conventional ground source heat pump systems.

Direct geoexchange and conventional ground source heat pump systems have additional limitations. Both require a significant amount of electrical power to pump fluids through hundreds or thousands of feet of piping. This not only limits overall system efficiency but also limits the environments in which it can be installed. This kind of power is not often available or reliable in the world's developing countries, so existing ground source heat pump systems have limited potential to penetrate broad world markets. In addition, since both systems are designed to heat and cool whole buildings, neither can efficiently be installed on the incremental room-by-room basis on which most of the world adopts heating and air conditioning.

In summary, conventional geoexchange systems and direct expansion geoexchange systems have significant limitations in energy efficiency, installation cost and installation flexibility.

There is a need, therefore, for a geothermal exchange system that operates in combination with a refrigerant heat intensification loop, utilizes less power than conventional refrigerant or coolant based geoexchange systems, results in lightweight heat exchangers that can be configured in a wide range of interior locations, has an extended lifetime due to fewer parts, has reduced ground loop installation costs and provides enhanced cooling and heating efficiency compared to power used.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, a geothermal exchange system uses a refrigerant loop with high heat transfer superconductor couplable to an earth source. The system includes a compressor, a first heat exchanger and a second heat exchanger, each of the heat exchangers adapted to function interchangeably as an evaporator and a condenser, such that the first heat exchanger is operable as an evaporator and the second heat exchanger is operable as a condenser when the system is operating in cooling mode, and such that the first heat exchanger is operable as a condenser and the second heat exchanger is operable as an evaporator when the system is operating in heating mode, at least one first conduit in communication with the compressor and each of the heat exchangers and adapted for carrying refrigerant through the system to each of the heat exchangers, the at least one conduit including a return conduit for carrying refrigerant gas back to the compressor, a reversing valve in communication with said at least one conduit and configured to reverse the flow of refrigerant from the compressor to the heat exchangers depending upon whether the system is operating in the cooling mode or the heating mode; and at least one of either an above-ground thermal superconductor segment thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger or a thermal interconnect thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger, and thermally couplable to a thermal superconductor segment such that heat transfer losses are less than 20%.

When the system is operating in heating mode, the valve is activated to direct refrigerant pumped from the compressor through the at least one conduit to the first heat exchanger where the refrigerant gas is condensed into liquid, through the return conduit to the second heat exchanger where the liquid is vaporized into gas and heat is efficiently transferred from earth source through the thermal superconductor, and back to the compressor via the return conduit; and such that when the system is operating in cooling mode, the valve is activated to direct refrigerant pumped from the compressor through the at least one conduit to the second heat exchanger where the refrigerant gas is condensed into liquid and heat is efficiently transferred to earth source through the thermal superconductor, through the return conduit to the first heat exchanger wherein the liquid is vaporized into gas, and back to the compressor via the return conduit.

In another embodiment, a cooling device using an efficient geothermal system with a high heat transfer superconductor couplable to an earth source. The cooling device includes a compressor, a first heat exchanger and a second heat exchanger, such that the first heat exchanger is operable as an evaporator and the second heat exchanger is operable as a condenser in a cooling mode, at least one first conduit in communication with the compressor and first heat exchanger and adapted for carrying refrigerant through the system to each of the heat exchangers, the at least one conduit including a return conduit for carrying refrigerant gas back to the compressor from the second heat exchanger, and at least one of either an above-ground thermal superconductor segment thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger or a thermal interconnect thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger, and thermally couplable to a thermal superconductor segment such that heat transfer losses are less than 20%, and such that refrigerant is pumped from the compressor through the at least one conduit to the second heat exchanger where the refrigerant gas is condensed into liquid and heat is efficiently transferred to earth source through the thermal superconductor, the refrigerant transfers through the return conduit to the first heat exchanger wherein the liquid is vaporized into gas, and back to the compressor via the return conduit.

In another embodiment, a heating device using an efficient geothermal system with high heat transfer superconductor couplable to an earth source. The heating device includes, a compressor, a first heat exchanger and a second heat exchanger, such that the first heat exchanger is operable as an evaporator and the second heat exchanger is operable as a condenser in a cooling mode at least one first conduit in communication with the compressor and first heat exchanger and adapted for carrying refrigerant through the system to each of the heat exchangers, the at least one conduit including a return conduit for carrying refrigerant gas back to the compressor from the second heat exchanger, and at least one of either an above-ground thermal superconductor segment thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger or a thermal interconnect thermally coupled to said second heat exchanger, and thermally couplable to a thermal superconductor segment such that heat transfer losses are less than 20%, such that refrigerant is pumped from the compressor through the at least one conduit to the second heat exchanger where the refrigerant gas is condensed into liquid and heat is efficiently transferred to earth source through the thermal superconductor, the refrigerant transfers through the return conduit to the first heat exchanger wherein the liquid is vaporized into gas, and back to the compressor via the return conduit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING(S)

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram schematic of an efficient geothermal exchange system with a plurality of ground source components.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump configured for air heat exchange.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram schematic of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump configured for direct thermal exchange to a circulating fluid in a tank.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram schematic of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump configured for indirect thermal exchange to a circulating fluid by way of an intermediating fluid in a tank.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of a geothermal cooling device with a power connector for manually powering the blower for additional air heat transfer.

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system showing separate housings for groups of system components. FIG. 7a shows air exchange components housed separately from other components. FIG. 7b illustrates an enclosure for air exchange components.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system showing separate housings for groups of system components, with air exchange components, ground source heat exchanger components and remaining above-ground components housed in separate enclosures.

FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump.

FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump configured for air heat exchange.

FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump configured for direct thermal exchange to a circulating fluid in a tank.

FIG. 12 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump configured for indirect thermal exchange to a circulating fluid by way of an intermediating fluid in a tank.

FIG. 13 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump configured for direct thermal exchange to a fluid loop.

FIG. 14 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system showing separate housings for groups of system components. FIG. 14a shows air exchange components housed separately from other components. FIG. 14b illustrates an enclosure for air exchange components.

FIG. 15 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system showing separate housings for groups of system components, with air exchange components, ground source heat exchanger components and remaining above-ground components housed in separate enclosures.

FIG. 16 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump.

FIG. 17 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system with thermal superconductor transfer from a ground source to a reversing refrigerant based heat pump configured for air heat exchange.

FIG. 18 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system showing separate housings for groups of system components. FIG. 18a shows air exchange components housed separately from other components. FIG. 18b illustrates an enclosure for air exchange components.

FIG. 19 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system showing separate housings for groups of system components, with air exchange components, ground source heat exchanger components and remaining above-ground components housed in separate enclosures.

FIG. 20a is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange system couplable to a superconducting geoexchange ground loop. FIG. 20b shows the ground source heat exchange component of the system of FIG. 20a configured to receive the end of a superconducting ground source element, with direct metal-to-metal thermal conduction. FIG. 20c shows the ground source heat exchange component configured for indirect coupling with a superconducting ground source element through an intermediating thermal paste.

FIG. 21 a shows a heat exchanger with a refrigerant coil wound around a metal sleeve that is configured to receive the end of a superconducting ground source component. FIG. 21b shows a heat exchanger with a refrigerant vessel surrounding a metal sleeve, which is configured to receive the end of a superconducting ground source component.

FIG. 22 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange cooling system with a ground source heat exchange component configured to receive a superconducting ground loop component.

FIG. 23 is a schematic diagram of an efficient geothermal exchange cooling system with a ground source heat exchange component configured to receive a superconducting ground loop component.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

With reference to the drawings, new and improved heating and cooling devices and geothermal exchange systems embodying the principles and concepts of the present device will be described. In particular, the devices and systems are applicable for climate control within structures as well as more generally to bi-directional heat transfer to and from earth sources. The embodiments shown in the attached figures satisfy the need for a geothermal exchange system with improved thermal efficiency, lower installation cost and greater installation flexibility.

Recent advances in thermal superconducting materials can now be considered for use in novel energy transfer applications. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,132,823 and continuations thereof, discloses an example of a heat transfer medium with extremely high thermal conductivity, and is included herein by reference. Specifically the following disclosure indicates the orders of magnitude improvement in thermal conduction; “Experimentation has shown that a steel conduit 4 with medium 6 properly disposed therein has a thermal conductivity that is generally 20,000 times higher than the thermal conductivity of silver, and can reach under laboratory conditions a thermal conductivity that is 30,000 times higher that the thermal conductivity of silver.” Such a medium is thermally superconducting. In this disclosure, the term superconductor shall interchangeably mean thermal superconductor or thermal superconductor heat pipe. The available product sold by Qu Energy International Corporation is an inorganic heat transfer medium provided in a vacuum sealed heat conducting tube.

Alternate thermal superconductors may be equivalently substituted, such as thermally superconducting heat pipes. Heat pipes typically include a sealed container (pipe), working fluid and a wicking or capillary structure inside the container. Heat is transported by an evaporation-condensation cycle when a thermal differential is present between opposing ends. Working fluids can be selected with high surface tension to generate a high capillary driving force such that the condensate can migrate back to the evaporator portion, even against gravity. Some working fluids useful for the geothermal operating temperature range include ammonia, acetone, methanol and ethanol. Inside the tube, the liquid enters and wets the internal surfaces of the capillary structure. Applying heat at one segment of the pipe, causes the liquid at that point to vaporize picking up latent heat of vaporization. The gas moves to a colder location where it condenses, giving up latent heat of vaporization. The heat transfer capacity of a heat pipe is proportional to the axial power rating, the energy moving axially along the pipe. For maximum energy transfer the heat pipe diameter should be increased and the length shortened, making it operable but less preferred than a non-liquid superconductor such as the Qu product. In particular with respect to the ground loop, scaled-up heat pipe designs have been disclosed for geothermal heating applications, such as in PCT Publication No. WO 86/00124 (“Improvements in earth heat recovery systems”). These designs partially overcome the length to diameter ratio problem but preferably require a recirculation pump for the fluid. A two-way heat pipe design for ventilation heat-exchanger is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,896,716, and could be used for non-ground loop transfer as a two-way thermal superconductor.

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of the present device in which heat is transferred bi-directionally using a thermal superconducting medium, such as described above. Generally, heat is transferred to and from a thermal superconductor earth source loop by a thermal superconductor heat exchange coil configured through a refrigerant loop subsystem with direction of heat flow controlled by a standard reversing valve system. Specifically, superconductor geothermal exchange active components are positioned above ground level 46 and couplable to a geothermal ground loop 48 formed from thermal superconductor and positioned in a ground loop hole 50. The ground loop refrigerant or coolant circulating loops of conventional geoexchange systems are replaced with thermally superconducting transfer coils that are operable bi-directionally, resulting in many advantages of efficiency, reduced size, and fewer components. The ground loop thermal superconductor extends above ground level where it is covered by insulation 25 and terminated in a coupler 44. For illustrative purposes, this superconductor may be in the form of a sealed metal tube as currently available from Qu Corporation and will be preferred to be in tube form. Alternatively other available thermal superconductors could be similarly substituted that may have various forms and cross sections such as flexible conduits, thin laminate, thin film coated metal etc, that may be suitable depending on the site and system conditions.

In the preferred case, the depth of hole D is selected in combination with the thermal transfer properties of the thermal superconductor element, the thermal transfer properties of the ground around hole D and the maximum expected rate of heat transfer between the heating/cooling system and the ground, in order to provide a desired heating and cooling capacity for the system. As in conventional geoexchange systems, the depth of hole 50 may be greater than is practicable for a single hole, so a plurality of holes may be substituted to receive a plurality of geothermal heat exchange elements with an aggregate depth equal to or greater than the required depth of a single hole. As shown in FIG. 2, this plurality of geothermal heat exchange units can be joined at or below coupler 44 in such a manner that they are equally able to transfer heat to the ground. Due to the improved thermal transfer properties of the superconductor, the hole size and depth can be considerably less than conventional geoexchange loops, saving installation costs and increasing the number of potential sites that can install geothermal exchange. Persons familiar with the technology involved here will recognize that hole 50 may equivalently be a trench in the ground 46, or alternatively the ground 46 may equivalently be a body of water such as a pond, well, river, sea or the like and the meaning of ground used herein shall include body of water. The coupler 44 couples between the ground loop superconductor 48 and a ground link superconductor segment 40 that transfers heat to and from a heat intensifier system, providing for ease of installation and conduit routing prior to connection. Optionally, the coupler may be eliminated in a direct installation design.

The superconductor segment 40 extends in an uninsulated portion 42 to be in thermal contact with a heat exchange segment 68 of a refrigerant loop that functions to circulate heat transferred to and from the ground loop, as shown in ground loop heat exchanger 66. The refrigerant loop circuit forms a refrigerant transfer path which includes a compressor 20 having outlet connected to refrigerant conduit 22 to a reversing valve 28 through conduit 32 to a heat exchange segment 38 in space heat exchanger 36 to a conduit 60 connected to a directional expander 62 with conduit 64 to a ground heat exchanger 28 connected to a return conduit 34, through the reversing valve 28 to conduit 21 and an optional accumulator 23 to a return conduit 24 to the inlet of the compressor 20. Persons familiar with the technology involved here will recognize that the space heat exchanger or ground heat exchanger are interoperable as condenser or evaporator heat exchangers to provide heating or cooling modes as the reversing valve 28 is switched from a first position to a second position.

When the refrigerant loop as described is filled with a suitable amount of refrigerant, the compressor can be powered on to operate the refrigerant heat exchange circuit. In a heating mode example of the flow of refrigerant, the compressor 20 compresses a gaseous refrigerant to intensify its heat content, circulates it through conduit 22 to the space heat exchanger 38 which acts as a condenser causing the gaseous refrigerant to condense to a liquid (or partial liquid) before passing through conduit 60 to expander 62 which rapidly expands the liquid in a pressure drop to change the refrigerant state to cooled vapor which absorbs heat at the evaporator heat exchanger 68 from the ground loop before passing through return conduit 34 to optional accumulator 23 (where remaining liquid is trapped and vaporized) after which the remaining refrigerant transfers through conduit 24 to complete the loop at the compressor inlet. This creates a temperature differential between space heat exchanger 38 and ground heat exchanger 68. In the preferred case, the refrigerant heat exchangers are isolated by insulation 25 as shown. The reversing valve 28 functions to direct the refrigerant flow in alternate directions, which reverses the thermal function of the heat exchangers becoming condenser and evaporator in open mode and evaporator and condenser in closed mode respectively. A thermal sensor 26 is associated with the medium to be conditioned by space heat exchange coil 38. A controller 16 is powered by power line 14 and provides power to compressor 20 through control line 18 and reversing valve 28 through control line 30, as well as control data to and from thermal sensor 26. Space heat exchange coil 38 can be configured in any suitable geometric arrangement related to a structure to improve or optimize heat transfer to a specific medium. Insulation 25 also preferably covers superconductor transfer segments outside of coupling connections and heat exchange sections, to reduce thermal transfer losses.

The superconductor geothermal exchange system 110 is operated in either a heating or cooling mode depending on the difference between the actual measured temperature and a desired set-point programmed in the thermostatic controller 16. For example, when the desired temperature is higher than actual temperature the superconductor geothermal exchange system 110 is operated in a heating mode. In heating mode, reversing valve 28 is opened such that space heat exchanger 38 operates as a condenser giving off heat and ground heat exchanger 68 operates as an evaporator receiving heat from ground link superconductor 40, while controller 16 operates compressor 20. Heat is then efficiently transferred from ground loop 48 to the ground heat exchanger 68, then efficiently transferred through the refrigerating loop to space heat exchanger for related heating use. In the cooling mode example, when the desired temperature is lower than actual temperature, the superconductor geothermal exchange system 110 is operated in a cooling mode. In cooling mode, reversing valve 28 is closed such that space heat exchanger 38 operates as an evaporator receiving heat and ground heat exchanger 68 operates as a condenser giving off heat to ground link superconductor 40, while controller 16 operates compressor 20. Heat is then efficiently transferred from space heat exchanger 68 to ground loop 48 for related cooling use. The modes may simply switch on/off rather than oscillate between heating and cooling based on controller programming and averaging forecasting.

The refrigerant loop circuit may have additional components as required to scale for larger energy applications. As known in the art of conventional heat pump systems, such larger systems may have receivers, suction accumulators, bulb sensors, thermostatic expansion metering valves and the like to manage refrigerant flow through the circuit.

The superconductor geothermal exchange system 110 attached to segment 40 above coupler 44 can be enclosed a number of ways, depending on application. For example, the components shown could be housed inside one enclosure 12.

As will be apparent to persons familiar with the technology involved here, the coupler 44 could equivalently be alternatively positioned under the ground, above ground outside a structure, inside a structure but outside the housing 12, or even inside the housing 12, as selected for best ease of installation. Housing 12 may include ambient vents for convective cooling of the compressor. A further embodiment of the superconductor geothermal exchange system 110 can eliminate the coupler 44 by configuring the switch to have a ground loop receptacle to accept the termination of the superconductor ground loop 48 such that the ground loop 48 can be separately installed from the rest of the system.

By changing the ground loop from a conventional fluid loop to a superconductor element, geoexchange system 110 eliminates the energy required to circulate ground loop fluids and as a result uses less power to operate, making it possible for new improved components to be utilized. For example, a low power compressor can be used, such as is available from Danfoss Corporation. In one embodiment the low power compressor 20 can have power less than 4500 W. In an alternate embodiment the low power compressor 20 requires power less than 1800 W, making it suitable for common North American household outlets, resulting in more convenient installation that conventional systems requiring higher power.

The superconductor geothermal exchange system 110 may operate from conventional AC grid power, or, alternatively, from a DC power source such as a hydrogen fuel cell, a solar cell array, or a wind turbine or the like. In either AC or DC power embodiments, individual components may be AC or DC powered, with power conditioners provided as required (not shown), being delivered to the system 110 already conditioned externally or delivered requiring additional conditioning, as will be apparent to persons familiar with the technology involved here. In the DC powered embodiment in which the components operate on a single voltage of DC power, low voltage alternative energy power may be used directly, without power conditioning, thereby reducing energy loss and potentially eliminating the need for power conditioning devices.

Using the preferred thermal superconducting tubes, it is preferred to have insulation along the length of the superconductor segments except heat exchanger coil segments or thermal transfer couplings to other components, to limit heat loss and condensation buildup. However alternate thermal superconductor embodiments may have integrated insulating layers or have acceptable transfer loss such that the superconductor geothermal exchange system 110 is operable.

FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of system 110 of FIG. 1 in which the required depth of hole 34 is greater than is practicable for a single hole. In this embodiment, the single geothermal heat exchange element is replaced with a plurality of such elements in a plurality of holes with an aggregate depth equal to or greater than the required depth of a single hole. This plurality of geothermal heat exchange units can be joined at or below coupler 44 in such a manner that they are equally able to transfer heat to the ground.

The superconductor geothermal exchange system 110 of FIG. 1 can be configured for air heating and cooling as shown in FIG. 3. Superconductor geothermal exchange system 120 is designed for air heating and cooling inside a structure, with the following modifications and additions. Enclosure 12 has two vented regions to provide an inlet and outlet for circulated air. Between the two vented regions is the space heat exchanger coil 38, which is further insulated by insulation 25 up to the coil. A blower 54 is positioned in proximity to the space heat exchanger 38 to pull or push air through the exchanger for heating or cooling, the preferred position being near the outlet vent region such that air is pulled over the space heat exchanger 38. The fan can be a low power, low throughput fan to conserve energy, or alternatively a variable speed fan. The preferred fan has operating noise less than 45 dB and can be DC powered by an alternative energy source (not shown). Space heat exchanger 38 may be configured in many possible designs provided sufficient net surface area is exposed to the air flow; the illustration of an array of bars substantially corresponding to the fan diameter is a preferred example. Alternatively, as is well known in the art of air heat exchangers, metal fins could be added to increase the surface area of the heat exchanger. Blower 54 is connected to controller 16 and power line 14 for control of fan operation. In the cooling mode, under some ambient conditions, condensate will form on the space heat exchanger 38, and an optional drip tray 56 is shown positioned below to catch condensate and an optional water drain line 58 is shown connected to drip tray for runoff disposal.

The controlled operation of the superconductor geothermal exchange system 120 is important for user comfort and control of heating and cooling. Controller 16 may be programmed as a thermostat controller responding to a temperature sensor 26 (such as a thermocouple) associated with the space to be heated or cooled, or as a controller that receives input from a remote thermostat and sensor associated with the space (not shown). The controller is shown within the housing 12, but may alternatively be in any suitable location provided it is in communication with the blower and temperature sensor. While the simplest implementation is one temperature measurement, to persons familiar with the technology involved here, multiple temperature measurements could be weighted or averaged for the purpose of feedback set points in the controller 16. In the case of a multi-speed fan, alternatively a second temperature sensor could be positioned on or near the space heat exchanger 38 to determine the initial fan speed for faster cooling. Unlike conventional central geothermal heat pumps, which are large, noisy and require greater power than available from a standard household outlet, the air exchange subsystem in enclosure 60 can be operated from a standard power outlet, anywhere in the house, quietly and in a small form factor housing. The housing 60 for air exchange subsystem, may be positioned anywhere within the interior room to be cooled or heated, and does not have to be near an exterior wall or window. Preferably the housing is positioned to provide optimum air mixing and heating for the room.

Operating modes are similar to those described for FIG. 1, with the additional mode of operating the blower in combination with operating the intensifying compressor for improving the rate of heat exchange with the air space to be conditioned. With the controller 16 set to a desired room temperature T1, via a manual input (not shown), or a remote control input, or a second remote thermostat (not shown) in communication with the controller 16, the controller senses existing room temperature T2 and if higher or lower than T1, switches reversing valve 28 to create appropriate heating or cooling circuit, operates the compressor 20 to circulate heated refrigerant and operates blower 54 to circulate air until the temperature reaches T1. Alternatively, as common in the art, various thresholding or smoothing processes can be programmed to avoid jitter and determine when to switch the blower 54 on or off. In the example of a multi-speed blower, the blower speed can be programmed to change in response to the rate of change of existing temperature T2, in addition to on or off. The superconductor geothermal exchange system 120 can be programmed to operate for inputs that act as related proxies for associated interior temperature and that have a known characterized relationship to temperature.

A further embodiment of the superconductor geothermal exchange system 120 can eliminate the coupler 44 by configuring the switch to have a ground loop receptacle portion to accept the termination of the superconductor ground loop 48, such that the ground loop 48 can be separately installed from the rest of the system. Persons familiar with the technology involved here will recognize that that there are many equivalent designs to couple the ground loop superconductor to the switch including intermediate coupler segments.

The superconductor geothermal exchange systems of FIGS. 1 and 2 have many advantages that solve the problems described in the background, due to the substantial efficiency increase relative to existing geoexchange solutions. These efficiency gains result in coefficient of performance of greater than 2 and potentially as high as 5 or more (relative to the efficiency of an electric resistance wire which is generally understood to have a coefficient of performance of 1), beyond the limits of conventional geoexchange. First, the hole depth of the geothermal earth source loop can be less than conventional ground loop depth, reducing costs and increasing qualifying sites. Second, by reducing the power requirements of the compressor and eliminating ground loop circulating pumps, the power requirements of the geothermal cooling device are substantially less than conventional geothermal exchange units, whether central or for a single room, and permit the installation and operation on normal household circuits such as a 15 Ampere rated outlet. Third, the lightweight and small size of the exchange coil housing relative to existing solutions, permits easy installation in a wide range of locations and even installations of individual exchange units in multiple rooms of a residence interior. Fourth, due to eliminating ground loop refrigerant and associated high power circulation pumps, system lifetimes are extended beyond conventional geoexchange.

The superconductor geothermal exchange system 110 of FIG. 1 can be configured for heating and cooling a secondary liquid such as water, liquid solutions and the like, as shown in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6. In FIG. 4, superconductor geothermal exchange system 130 is designed for heating and cooling a secondary fluid 82 for use inside a structure, for example to heat domestic water or to heat water in a hydronic radiant floor, with the following modifications and additions. Heat exchanger element 38 is immersed in a fluid 82 in tank 80 for the purpose of transferring heat to and from fluid 82. Fluid 82 is stored in tank 80 in a volume resulting in a thermal mass and having storage temperature measured by sensor 84 connected to controller 16. The space heat exchanger 38 is arranged in the tank in contact with the exchange fluid 82, as shown. The fluid in the tank is circulated by a pump (not shown) out to a remote exchange location through outlet 88 and returned to the tank 80 through inlet 86 with resultant change in fluid temperature. For this case, the remote exchange may be fluid-to-air, fluid-to-liquid or fluid to solid thermal mass and have an associated temperature sensor (not shown). Controller 16 is connected to operate power pump (not shown) for circulation of secondary fluid, in combination with operating the superconductor geothermal exchange system in heating or cooling modes as previously described.

FIG. 5 shows another alternative configuration of geothermal exchange system 130 in which a fluid heat exchanger is configured to provide indirect heat transfer to and from an auxiliary fluid loop. In this configuration, heat exchanger 38 is immersed in a non-circulating heat transfer fluid in a tank 85. A secondary circulating fluid enters tank 85 through fluid inlet 81 and passes through a secondary heat exchange loop, absorbing heat from heat transfer fluid (in the heating mode) or giving up heat (in the cooling mode) before exiting tank 85 through fluid outlet 83.

FIG. 6 shows another alternative configuration of geothermal exchange system 130 in which fluid heat exchanger 104 is configured to provide direct thermal transfer between heat exchange element 38 and a fluid loop 75 through thermal contact between the element and loop. In this configuration, a fluid (not shown) such as water, a liquid solution or a refrigerant is circulated by a separate system (not shown) coupled to inlet 81 and outlet 83 and passes through fluid loop 75, transferring heat through the walls of fluid loop 75 walls, to or from heat exchange element 38 directly. As will be apparent to persons familiar with the technology involved here, such thermal contact can be provided by metal-metal contact or by contact with an intermediate, localized heat transfer component such as a thermal paste and the like.

The above-ground components of the geothermal exchange systems described in FIGS. 1 to 6 can be grouped in plurality of separate housings as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. FIG. 7a illustrates one embodiment of a such split system in which remote housing 92 encloses the space heat exchanger 38, blower 54 expansion valve 62a and associated inlet and outlet conduit to transfer the incoming and outgoing refrigerant with the other components in the refrigerant loop, and control line 30a to operate the fan 54. Optionally, drip tray and line 56, 58 and temperature sensor 26 may be included. The expander may be either located in enclosure 12 as expander 62 or optionally in housing 92 as shown as expander 62a. There are three advantages to a split housing. First, installation may be made easier by placing the elements coupled to the ground superconductor outside. Second, there is an advantage to housing the noisy components such as the compressor in a separate housing such that the noise level in the heating space is reduced. Third, as the compressor produces heat while operating, there is an advantage to having it outside rather than having the extra heat discharged into the space being cooled, reduce efficiency of the cooling mode. Further, the housing 12 could be located centrally in a structure, with enclosure 52 located remotely in a space to be heated or cooled, as shown by the example of enclosure 92 in FIG. 7b. Alternatively, housing 12 could be located exterior to a structure and connected through superconductor transfer segment 38 to enclosure 52 located inside the structure to be heated or cooled.

FIG. 8 illustrates an alternate exchange configuration in which heat exchanger 66 and related components are enclosed in enclosure 94 such that heat exchange between ground loop 48 and the refrigerant loop is accomplished outside enclosure 12, allowing ground heat exchanger 66 to be located at any point below, at or above ground level, making system installation more flexible. Optional connectors 96 and 96a enable simplified interconnection of system components in some applications.

FIG. 9 illustrates an embodiment of the present device in which heat is transferred in a heating only mode using a thermal superconducting medium, such as described above, for a superconductor geothermal heating device 150. Generally, heat is transferred from a thermal superconductor earth source loop by a thermal superconductor heat exchange coil configured through a refrigerant loop subsystem. Specifically, superconductor geothermal exchange active components are positioned above ground level 46 and couplable to a geothermal ground loop 48 formed from thermal superconductor and positioned in a ground loop hole 50. The ground loop refrigerant or coolant circulating loops of conventional geoexchange systems are replaced with thermally superconducting transfer coils that are operable bi-directionally, resulting in many advantages of efficiency, reduced size, and fewer components. The ground loop thermal superconductor extends above ground level where it is covered by insulation 25 and terminated in a coupler 44. For illustrative purposes, this superconductor may be in the form of a sealed metal tube as currently available from Qu Corporation and will be preferred to be in tube form. Alternatively other available thermal superconductors could be similarly substituted that may have various forms and cross sections such as flexible conduits, thin laminate, thin film coated metal etc, that may be suitable depending on the site and system conditions.

The superconductor segment 40 extends to be in thermal contact to an evaporator exchanger 68 of a refrigerant loop that functions to circulate heat transferred from the ground loop. The refrigerant loop circuit forms a refrigerant transfer path which includes a compressor 20 having outlet connected to refrigerant conduit 22 to condenser heat exchanger 74 to a conduit 32 connected to an expander 62 with conduit 64 to evaporator heat exchanger 72 connected to a return conduit 34, through an optional accumulator 23 to a return conduit 24 to the inlet of the compressor 20.

When the refrigerant loop as described is filled with a suitable amount of refrigerant, the compressor may be powered on to operate the refrigerant heat exchange circuit. In a the heating mode, the compressor 20 compresses a gaseous refrigerant to intensify its heat content, circulates it through conduit 22 to the condenser heat exchanger 74 where the hot refrigerant vapor gives up heat and condenses to a liquid or partial liquid before passing through conduit 60 to expander 62 where the liquid refrigerant is expanded in a pressure drop to change state, becoming cooled vapor which enters evaporator heat exchanger 72 and absorbs heat from the ground loop before passing through return conduit 34 to optional accumulator 23 (where remaining liquid is trapped and vaporized) before the refrigerant transfers through conduit 24 to complete the loop at the compressor inlet. This creates a temperature differential between the condenser heat exchanger 74 and evaporator heat exchanger 72. In the preferred case, heat exchangers 74 and 72 are isolated by insulation 25 (not shown.) A thermal sensor 26 is associated with the medium to be conditioned by condenser heat exchanger 74. A controller 16 is powered by power line 14 and provides power to compressor 20 and reversing valve 28, as well as control data to and from thermal sensor 26. Condenser heat exchanger 74 can be configured in any suitable geometric arrangement related to a structure to improve or optimize heat transfer to a specific medium. Insulation 25 also preferably covers superconductor transfer segments outside of coupling connections and heat exchange sections, to reduce thermal transfer losses.

The superconductor geothermal exchange system 150 is operable depending on the difference between the actual measured temperature and a desired set-point programmed in the thermostatic controller 16. For example, when the desired temperature is higher than actual temperature the superconductor geothermal exchange system 150 is operated. Heat is then efficiently transferred from ground loop 48 to the evaporator heat exchanger 72, then efficiently transferred through the refrigerating loop to condenser heat exchanger for related heating use.

The superconductor geothermal exchange system 150 attached to segment 40 above coupler 44 can be enclosed a number of ways, depending on application. For example, the components as shown could be housed inside one enclosure 12. Alternatively thermal superconductor segments 40 and 42 can be installed at a later time. As will be apparent to persons familiar with the technology involved here, the coupler 44 could equivalently be alternatively positioned under the ground, above ground outside a structure, inside a structure but outside the housing 12, or even inside the housing 12, as selected for best ease of installation. Housing 12 may include ambient vents for convective cooling of the compressor. A further embodiment of the superconductor geothermal exchange system 150 can eliminate the coupler 44 by configuring the switch to have a ground loop receptacle to accept the termination of the superconductor ground loop 48 such that the ground loop 48 can be separately installed from the rest of the system.

The superconductor geothermal heating device 150 of FIG. 9, can be configured for air heating as shown in FIG. 10. Superconductor geothermal heating device 160 is designed for air heating inside a structure, with the following modifications and additions. Enclosure 12 has two vented regions to provide an inlet and outlet for circulated air. Between the two vented regions is the evaporator exchanger 38, which is further insulated by insulation 25 up to the coil. A blower 54 is positioned in proximity to the evaporator heat exchanger 74 to pull or push air through the exchanger for heating, the preferred position being near the outlet vent region such that air is pulled over heat exchanger 74. The fan can be a low power, low throughput fan to conserve energy, or alternatively a variable speed fan. The preferred fan has operating noise less than 45 dB and can be DC powered by an alternative energy source (not shown). Evaporator heat exchanger 74 may be configured in many possible designs provided sufficient net surface area is exposed to the air flow; the illustration of an array of bars substantially corresponding to the fan diameter, is a preferred example. Alternatively, as is well known in the art of air heat exchangers, metal fins could be added to increase the surface area of the heat exchanger. Blower 54 is connected to controller 16 and power line 14 for control of fan operation.

The controlled operation of the superconductor geothermal exchange system 160 is important for user comfort and control of heating. Controller 16 may be programmed as a thermostat controller responding to a temperature sensor 26 (such as a thermocouple) associated with the space to be heated, or as a controller that receives input from a remote thermostat and sensor associated with the space (not shown). The controller is shown within the housing 12, but may alternatively be in any suitable location provided it is in communication with the blower and temperature sensor. While the simplest implementation is one temperature measurement, persons familiar with the technology involved here will recognize that multiple temperature measurements could be weighted or averaged for the purpose of feedback set points in the controller 16. In the case of a multi-speed fan, alternatively a second temperature sensor could be positioned on or near the space heat exchanger 74 to determine the initial fan speed for faster heating. Unlike conventional central geothermal heat pumps, which are large, noisy and require greater power than available from a standard household outlet, the air exchange subsystem in enclosure 60 can be operated from a standard power outlet, anywhere in the house, quietly and in a small form factor housing. The housing 60 for air exchange subsystem, may be positioned anywhere within the interior room to be heated, and does not have to be near an exterior wall or window. Preferably the housing is positioned to provide optimum air mixing and heating or cooling for the room.

Operating mode is similar as described for FIG. 9, with the additional mode of operating the blower in combination with operating the compressor for improving the rate of heat exchange with the air space to be conditioned. With the controller 16 set to a desired room temperature T1, via a manual input (not shown), or a remote control input, or a second remote thermostat (not shown) in communication with the controller 16, the controller senses existing room temperature T2 and if lower than T1, operates the compressor 20 to circulate heated refrigerant and operates blower 54 to circulate air until the temperature reaches T1. Alternatively, as common in the art, various thresholding or smoothing processes can be programmed to avoid jitter and determine when to switch the blower 54 on or off. In the example of a multi-speed blower, the blower speed can be programmed to change in response to the rate of change of existing temperature T2, in addition to on or off. The superconductor geothermal exchange system 160 can be programmed to operate for inputs that act as related proxies for associated interior temperature and that have a known characterized relationship to temperature.

A further embodiment of the superconductor geothermal exchange system 160 can eliminate the coupler 44 by configuring the evaporator heat exchanger 68 to have a receptacle portion to accept the termination of the superconductor ground loop 48, such that the ground loop 48 can be separately installed from the rest of the system. Persons familiar with the technology involved here will recognize that that there are many equivalent designs to couple the ground loop superconductor to the switch including intermediate coupler segments.

The superconductor geothermal heating devices of FIGS. 9 and 10 have many advantages that solve the problems described in the background, due to the substantial efficiency increase relative to existing geothermal heating solutions. These efficiency gains result in coefficient of performance of greater than 2 and potentially as high as 5 or more, beyond the limits of conventional geothermal heating. First, by increasing system efficiency, the hole depth of the geothermal earth source loop can be less than conventional ground loop depth, reducing costs and increasing qualifying sites. Second, by reducing the power requirements of the compressor and eliminating ground loop circulating pumps, the power requirements of the geothermal cooling device are substantially less than conventional geothermal exchange units, whether central or for a single room, and permit the installation and operation on normal household circuits such as a 15 Ampere rated outlet. Third, the lightweight and small size of the exchange coil housing relative to existing solutions, permits easy installation in a wide range of locations and even installations of individual exchange units in multiple rooms of a residence interior. Fourth, due to eliminating ground loop refrigerant and associated high power circulation pumps, system lifetimes are extended beyond conventional geoexchange.

The superconductor geothermal heating device 150 of FIG. 9, can be configured for heating a secondary liquid such as water, liquid solutions and the like, as shown in FIGS. 11, 12 and 13. In FIG. 11, superconductor geothermal exchange system 170 is designed for heating and cooling a secondary exchange fluid 82 for use inside a structure, with the following modifications and additions to heating device 150. Heat exchanger element 38 is immersed in a fluid 82 in tank 80 for the purpose of transferring heat to and from fluid 82. Fluid 82 is stored in tank 80 in a volume resulting in a thermal mass and having storage temperature measured by sensor 84 connected to controller 16 through control line 90. The space heat exchanger 38 is arranged in the tank in contact with the exchange fluid 82, as shown. The fluid in the tank is circulated by a pump (not shown) out to a remote exchange location through outlet 88 and returned to the tank 80 through inlet 86 with resultant change in fluid temperature. For this case, the remote exchange may be fluid-to-air, fluid-to-liquid or fluid to solid thermal mass and have an associated temperature sensor (not shown). Controller 16 is connected to operate power pump (not shown) for circulation of secondary fluid, in combination with operating the superconductor geothermal exchange system in heating or cooling modes as previously described.

Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 12, a fluid heat exchanger can be configured to provide indirect heat transfer to and from an auxiliary fluid loop. In this configuration, heat exchanger 38 is immersed in a non-circulating heat transfer fluid in a tank 85. A secondary circulating fluid (not shown) enters tank 85 through fluid inlet 81 and passes through heat exchange loop 89, absorbing heat from heat transfer fluid 87 (in the heating mode) or giving up heat (in the cooling mode) before exiting tank 85 through fluid outlet 83.

FIG. 13 shows another alternative configuration in which the fluid heat exchanger is configured in tank 104 to provide direct thermal transfer between heat exchange element 38 and a fluid loop 75 through thermal contact between the two elements. In this configuration, a fluid (not shown) such as water, a liquid solution or a refrigerant is circulated by a separate system (not shown) and passes through fluid loop 75, transferring heat through the walls of fluid loop 75 walls, to or from heat exchange element 38 directly. As will be apparent to persons familiar with the technology involved here, such thermal contact can be provided by metal-metal contact or by contact with an intermediate, localized heat transfer component such as a thermal paste and the like. Exchange fluid is typically in exchange with a second liquid or air exchanger for use in heating such as floor or radiator heating, domestic water heating. Fluid may alternatively be distributed and circulated for distributed exchange.

The above-ground components of the geothermal exchange systems described in FIGS. 9 to 13 can be grouped in plurality of separate housings as shown in FIGS. 14a, 14b and 15. FIG. 14a illustrates an embodiment in which the condenser exchanger is located remotely in housing 92. Housing 92 encloses the condenser exchanger 74, blower 54, expansion valve 62a and associated inlet and outlet conduit to transfer the incoming and outgoing refrigerant with the other components in the refrigerant loop. Control line 30a is connected between the two housings for controlling the fan 54. Optionally, temperature sensor 26 may be included. There are two advantages to a split housing. First, installation may be made easier by placing the elements coupled to the ground superconductor outside. Second, there is an advantage to housing the noisy components such as compressor in a separate housing such that the noise level in the heating and cooling space is reduced. Further, the housing 12 could be located centrally in a structure, with enclosure 52 located remotely in a space to be heated, as shown by the example of enclosure 92 in FIG. 14b. Alternatively, housing 12 could be located exterior to a structure and connected through superconductor transfer segment 38 to enclosure 52 located inside the structure to be heated. Similarly, as shown in FIG. 15, split housing enclosures can be configured for alternate exchange configurations with the appropriate relocation of heat exchange related components. In this figure, heat exchanger 66 and related components are enclosed in enclosure 94 such that heat exchange between ground loop 48 and the refrigerant loop happens outside enclosure 12, allowing ground heat exchanger 66 to be located at any suitable point below, at or above ground level, making system installation more flexible. Optional connectors 96 and 96a enable simplified interconnection of system components in some applications.

FIG. 16 illustrates an embodiment of the present device in which heat is transferred in a cooling only mode, using a thermal superconducting medium such as described above, for a superconductor geothermal cooling device 190. Generally, heat is transferred to a thermal superconductor earth source loop by a thermal superconductor heat exchange coil configured through a refrigerant loop subsystem. Specifically, superconductor geothermal exchange active components are positioned above ground level 46 and couplable to a geothermal ground loop 48 formed from thermal superconductor and positioned in a ground loop hole 50. The ground loop refrigerant or coolant circulating loops of conventional geoexchange systems are replaced with thermally superconducting transfer coils that are operable bi-directionally, resulting in many advantages of efficiency, reduced size, and fewer components. The ground loop thermal superconductor extends above ground level where it is covered by insulation 25 and terminated in a coupler 44. For illustrative purposes, this superconductor may be in the form of a sealed metal tube as currently available from Qu Corporation and will be preferred to be in tube form. Alternatively other available thermal superconductors could be similarly substituted that may have various forms and cross sections such as flexible conduits, thin laminate, thin film coated metal etc, that may be suitable depending on the site and system conditions.

The superconductor segment 40 extends to be in thermal contact to a condenser exchanger 68 of a refrigerant loop that functions to circulate heat to the ground loop. The refrigerant loop circuit forms a refrigerant transfer path which includes a compressor 20 having outlet connected to refrigerant conduit 22 to a condenser exchanger 76 to a conduit 32 connected to an expander 62 with conduit 64 to an evaporator exchanger 78 connected to a return conduit 34, through an optional accumulator 23 to a return conduit 24 to the inlet of the compressor 20.

When the refrigerant loop as described is filled with a suitable amount of refrigerant, the refrigerant heat exchange circuit is operated by powering the compressor. In a cooling mode, the compressor 20 compresses a gaseous refrigerant to intensify its heat content, circulates it through conduit 22 to the condenser exchanger 76 where it gives up heat to the ground loop acting as a condenser, and then passes through conduit 60 to expander 62 which rapidly expands liquid in a pressure drop to change the refrigerant state to cooled vapor which absorbs heat at the evaporator exchanger 78 before passing through return conduit 34 to optional accumulator 23 (where remaining liquid is trapped and vaporized) and remaining refrigerant transfers through conduit 24 to complete the loop at the compressor inlet. This creates a temperature differential between evaporator exchanger 78 and condenser exchanger 76. In the preferred case, the refrigerant heat exchangers are isolated by insulation 25 as shown. A thermal sensor 26 is associated with the medium to be conditioned by evaporator exchanger 78. A controller 16 is powered by power line 14 and provides power to compressor 20 and reversing valve 28, as well as control data to and from thermal sensor 26. Evaporator exchanger 78 can be configured in any suitable geometric arrangement related to a structure to improve or optimize heat transfer to a specific medium. Insulation 25 also preferably covers superconductor transfer segments outside of coupling connections and heat exchange sections, to reduce thermal transfer losses.

The superconductor geothermal cooling device 190 is controlled depending on the difference between the actual measured temperature and a desired set-point programmed in the thermostatic controller 16. For example, when the desired temperature is lower than actual temperature the superconductor geothermal cooling device 190 is operated in a cooling mode. In cooling mode, heat is collected at the condenser exchanger, transferred through the refrigerating loop then efficiently transferred to ground loop 48 from the condenser exchanger 76, for related cooling use.

The superconductor geothermal cooling device 190 attached to segment 40 above coupler 44 can be enclosed a number of ways, depending on application. For example, the components as shown could be housed inside one enclosure 12. Alternatively thermal superconductor segments 40 and 42 can be installed at a later time. As will be apparent to persons familiar with the technology involved here, the coupler 44 could equivalently be alternatively positioned under the ground, above ground outside a structure, inside a structure but outside the housing 12, or even inside the housing 12, as selected for best ease of installation. Housing 12 may include ambient vents for convective cooling of the compressor. A further embodiment of the superconductor geothermal cooling device 190 can eliminate the coupler 44 by configuring the switch to have a ground loop receptacle to accept the termination of the superconductor ground loop 48 such that the ground loop 48 can be separately installed from the rest of the system.

The superconductor geothermal cooling device 190 of FIG. 16, can be configured for air cooling as shown in FIG. 17. Superconductor geothermal cooling system 200 is designed for air cooling inside a structure, with the following modifications and additions. Enclosure 12 has two vented regions to provide an inlet and outlet for circulated air. Between the two vented regions is the evaporator exchanger 78, which is further insulated by insulation 25 up to the coil. A blower 54 is positioned in proximity to the evaporator exchanger 78 to pull or push air through the exchanger for cooling, the preferred position being near the outlet vent region such that air is pulled over the evaporator exchanger 78. The fan can be a low power, low throughput fan to conserve energy, or alternatively a variable speed fan. The preferred fan has operating noise less than 45 dB and can be DC powered by an alternative energy source (not shown). Evaporator exchanger 78 may be configured in many possible designs provided sufficient net surface area is exposed to the air flow; the illustration of an array of bars substantially corresponding to the fan diameter, is a preferred example. Alternatively, as is well known in the art of air heat exchangers, metal fins could be added to increase the surface area of the heat exchanger. Blower 54 is connected to controller 16 and power line 14 for control of fan operation. Under some ambient conditions, condensate will form on the evaporator exchanger 78, and an optional drip tray 56 is shown positioned below to catch condensate and an optional water drain line 58 is shown connected to drip tray for runoff disposal.

The controlled operation of the superconductor geothermal cooling device 200 is important for user comfort and control of cooling. Controller 16 may be programmed as a thermostat controller responding to a temperature sensor 26 (such as a thermocouple) associated with the space to be heated, or as a controller that receives input from a remote thermostat and sensor associated with the space (not shown). The controller is shown within the housing 12, but may alternatively be in any suitable location provided it is in communication with the blower and temperature sensor. While the simplest implementation is one temperature measurement, persons familiar with the technology involved here will recognize that multiple temperature measurements could be weighted or averaged for the purpose of feedback set points in the controller 16. In the case of a multi-speed fan, alternatively a second temperature sensor could be positioned on or near the space heat exchanger 38 to determine the initial fan speed for faster cooling. Unlike conventional central geothermal heat pumps, which are large, noisy and require greater power than available from a standard household outlet, the air exchange subsystem in enclosure 12 can be operated from a standard power outlet, anywhere in the house, quietly and in a small form factor housing. Preferably the housing is positioned to provide optimum air mixing and cooling for the room.

Operating modes are similar as described for FIG. 16, with the additional mode of operating the blower in combination with operating the compressor for improving the rate of heat exchange with the air space to be conditioned. With the controller 16 set to a desired room temperature T1, via a manual input (not shown), or a remote control input, or a second remote thermostat (not shown) in communication with the controller 16, the controller senses existing room temperature T2 and if higher than T1, operates the compressor 20 to circulate heated refrigerant and operates blower 54 to circulate air until the temperature reaches T1. Alternatively, as common in the art, various thresholding or smoothing processes can be programmed to avoid jitter and determine when to switch the blower 54 on or off. In the example of a multi-speed blower, the blower speed can be programmed to change in response to the rate of change of existing temperature T2, in addition to on or off, such that cooling device 200 maintains optimal thermal comfort in a space while minimizing fan noise, compressor noise and system cycling. The superconductor geothermal cooling device 200 can also be programmed to operate for inputs that act as related proxies for associated interior temperature and that have a known characterized relationship to temperature.

A further embodiment of the superconductor geothermal cooling device 200 can eliminate the coupler 44 by configuring the condenser exchanger 76 to have a receptacle portion to accept the termination of the superconductor ground loop 48, such that the ground loop 48 can be separately installed from the rest of the system. Persons familiar with the technology involved here will recognize that that there are many equivalent designs to couple the ground loop superconductor to the switch including intermediate coupler segments.

The above-ground components of the geothermal exchange systems described in FIGS. 16 and 17 can be grouped in plurality of separate housings as shown in FIGS. 18a, 18b and 19. FIG. 18a illustrates an embodiment in which the condenser exchanger is located remotely in housing 92. Housing 92 encloses the condenser exchanger 74, blower 54, expansion valve 62 and associated inlet and outlet conduit to transfer the incoming and outgoing refrigerant with the other components in the refrigerant loop. Optionally, drip tray and line 56, 58 and temperature sensor 26 may be included. There are three advantages to a split housing. First, installation may be made easier by placing the elements coupled to the ground superconductor outside. Second, there is an advantage to housing the noisy components such as compressor in a separate housing such that the noise level in the heating and cooling space is reduced. Third, as the compressor produces heat while operating, there is an advantage to having it outside rather than having the extra heat reduce effectiveness of cooling the space in cooling mode. Further, the housing 12 could be located centrally in a structure, with enclosure 52 located remotely in a space to be heated, as shown by the example of enclosure 92 in FIG. 18b. Alternatively, housing 12 could be located exterior to a structure and connected through superconductor transfer segment 38 to enclosure 52 located inside the structure to be heated. Similarly, as shown in FIG. 19, split enclosures can be configured for alternate exchange configurations with the appropriate relocation of heat exchange related components. In this figure, heat exchanger 66 and related components are enclosed in enclosure 94 such that heat exchange between ground loop 48 and the refrigerant loop happens outside enclosure 12, allowing ground heat exchanger 66 to be located at any suitable point below, at or above ground level, making system installation more flexible. Optional connectors 96 and 96a enable simplified interconnection of system components in some applications.

The superconductor geothermal cooling devices of FIGS. 16 through 19 have many advantages that solve the problems described in the background, due to the substantial energy efficiency and cost efficiency increases relative to existing geothermal cooling solutions. These efficiency gains result in coefficient of performance of greater than 2 and potentially as high as 5 or more, beyond the limits of conventional geothermal cooling. First, the hole depth of the geothermal earth source loop can be less than conventional ground loop depth, reducing costs and increasing qualifying sites. Second, by reducing the power requirements of the compressor and eliminating ground loop circulating pumps, the power requirements of the geothermal cooling device are substantially less than conventional geothermal exchange units, whether central or for a single room, and permit the installation and operation on normal household circuits such as a 15 Ampere rated outlet. Third, the lightweight and small size of the exchange coil housing relative to existing solutions, permits easy installation in buildings. Fourth, due to eliminating ground loop refrigerant and associated high power circulation pumps, system lifetimes are extended beyond conventional geoexchange.

The thermal superconductor geoexchange systems and heating and cooling devices described herein are couplable or connectable to a thermal superconductor element. The systems may be assembled from subsystems having no thermal superconductor elements, but with the addition of a superconductor heat exchange interconnect thermally coupled to ground loop heat exchanger 68, 72 or 76. The heat exchange interconnect preferably limits increases in heat transfer resistance to less than 15% when connected to a thermal superconductor, and is easily coupled to a tube or rod shaped thermal superconductor.

Examples of such interconnections are shown in FIGS. 20a, 20b and 20c. FIG. 20a illustrates a geothermal heating and cooling system 200 couplable to a superconducting earth source ground loop through superconductor heat exchange interconnect 102. FIG. 20b illustrates one embodiment of such a ground source heat exchanger incorporating superconductor heat exchange interconnect 102 in the form of a tubular opening in a metal block 66 that is coupled with heat exchanger through ports 34 and 64. This tubular opening has a diameter slightly larger than corresponding uninsulated thermal superconductor tube 42, such that when thermal superconductor tube 42 is inserted in the hole, it directly contacts the surface of the metal block and heat is transferred between the superconductor tube and the heat exchanger. The tube may have securing fasteners 108 on at least one side to maintain the thermal superconductor from moving. FIG. 20c shows an alternate embodiment of the coupling shown in FIG. 20b. In this embodiment, the diameter of the tubular opening that forms superconductor heat exchange interconnect 102 is significantly larger than the corresponding thermal superconductor tube 42 such that when the superconductor tube is inserted in the hole, a gap is formed between the superconductor tube and the walls of the tubular hole. When the gap is filled with a thermal paste, heat is transferred between the thermal superconductor tube and the heat exchanger through the thermal paste. Persons familiar with the technology involved here will recognize that it may be necessary or desirable to provide a seal at the opening of superconductor heat exchange interconnect 102 to keep the thermal paste in the gap between the thermal transfer surfaces.

FIG. 21 shows two alternative configurations for coupling superconductor heat exchange interconnect 102 and ground loop heat exchangers 68, 72 or 76. In FIG. 21a, a heat exchange coil 68 is arranged in a tight wound coil around superconductor heat exchange interconnect 102b which is configured as a metal tube having an opening to receive a tubular superconductor segment, and couples through ports 34b and 64b. In FIG. 21b, the heat exchanger is configured as a sleeve with a cavity 106 suitable for receiving a thermal superconductor tube, with the refrigerant flowing through the sleeve to transfer heat through the inner sleeve surface and coupled to the refrigerant loop through ports 34c and 64c. At the sleeve cavity opening, there maybe a refrigerant collector to couple the refrigerant to the exchange loop. The interconnect may have multiple sleeve openings for coupling multiple thermal superconductor ground loops. The thermal interconnect will be preferably rigid to maintain uniform flow conditions for the refrigerant.

FIG. 22 illustrates a geothermal heating system 210 suitable for coupling to a superconducting earth source ground loop through superconductor heat exchange interconnect 102 in the same manner described in FIG. 20 for system 200. System 210, when coupled to superconductor ground loop, can be operated and additionally configured with reference to FIGS. 9-15.

FIG. 23 illustrates a geothermal cooling system 220 suitable for coupling to a superconducting earth source ground loop through superconductor heat exchange interconnect 102 in the same manner described in FIG. 20 for system 200. System 220, when coupled to superconductor ground loop, can be operated and additionally configured with reference to FIGS. 16-19.

In these examples and embodiments described, insulation has been shown on superconductor segments which function to transfer heat internally from one location to another, and insulation is not shown on ends of these segments which function to transfer heat to air, fluids or other or other system components. This is the preferred example, whether or not explicitly stated in figure descriptions or numbered on drawings. However, as noted previously, the superconductor geothermal cooling devices described will operate with no insulation or with some transfer lines insulated or combinations of insulated or uninsulated portions of the superconductors thereof.

In these examples housing has been described as split housing in a preferred case, however it will be appreciated that the various embodiments can be integrated into existing structures or enclosed in a single housing.

Although particular embodiments of the invention have been described by way of example, it will be appreciated that additions, modifications and alternatives thereto may be envisaged. The scope of the present disclosure includes any novel feature or combination of features disclosed therein either explicitly or implicitly or any generalization thereof irrespective of whether or not it relates to the claimed invention or mitigates any or all of the problems addressed by the present invention. The applicant hereby gives notice that new claims may be formulated to such features during the prosecution of this application or of any such further application derived there from. In particular, with reference to the appended claims, features from dependent claims may be combined with those of the independent claims and features from respective independent claims may be combined in any appropriate manner and not merely in the specific combinations enumerated in the claims.