Feasibility of geothermal heat exchanger pile-based bridge deck snow melting system: A simulation based analysis


Analyses method for geothermal heat exchanger pile in bridge deck snow removal.

Simulation model to predict the energy extraction rates under different conditions.

Assessment framework for technique feasibility of geothermal based deicing system.

Elucidation on the critical role of local geological and snow conditions.


Snow melting system based on geothermal heat exchanger pile is an innovative technology that combines geothermal energy with structural foundation. It overcomes the problems of conventional chemical based snow melting in mitigating infrastructure corrosion and negative environmental effects. By integrating the underground heat exchanger into pile foundation that support the bridge structure, it effectively reduces the installation cost of geothermal system. This paper analyses the applicability and performance of such snow melting system for different regions. Energy demand for snow removal is firstly determined with ASHRAE criteria. A holistic 3D simulation model is developed to predict the energy extraction rate under different operation conditions. A hypothetical bridge deck (200 m length by 14.8 m (4 lanes) width) is analyzed to assess the feasibility of geothermal heat exchanger pile based snow melting system for 10 cities representing a variety of climatic regions of the United States. The number of pile foundation required for snow melting is used as indication of the technical feasibility. The results show that its feasibility and performance in bridge deck snow removal is dependent upon the geological and snow conditions of a particular region, as well as the design snow removal criteria.


  • Geothermal heat exchanger pile;
  • Snow and ice removal;
  • Geothermal heat pump;
  • Pile foundation;
  • Finite element simulation

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