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Thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior of an embankment to store thermal energy

Abstract : Nowadays, thermal energy storage in geostructures like embankments can be possible by installing the horizontal heat exchangers in different layers of compacted soil. In this system, the thermal energy is stored in summer via a fluid, circulating in the heat exchangers, to be extracted in the demand period. When the serviceability of embankment as a medium to store the thermal energy starts, the compacted soil will be subjected to the daily and seasonally temperature variations. These seasonal temperature variations could modify the thermo-hydro-mechanical performance of the compacted soil. Thus, the aim of this study is to investigate the thermal and mechanical performances of a compacted soil when it is subjected to monotonic and cyclic temperature variations. The studied soil is a sandy lean clay that is frequently used in embankment constructions in France. The thermal and mechanical behavior of the soil are investigated at a compaction state corresponding to the optimal thermal properties. However, this compacted soil is unsaturated and the estimation of its thermal properties is complex. In this study, an inverse analytical model is proposed to estimate the thermal properties of the soil using temperature monitoring in the range of 20 to 50 °C in a soil compacted in a large container. The estimated thermal parameters were compared to classical laboratory measurements (transient and steady-state methods). The comparison showed that the estimated values were close to the results obtained in transient laboratory method. Using this method, the thermal efficiency of the compacted soil can be verified in the lifetime of the storage system. To ensure the structure stability, long-term mechanical response of these systems subjected to monotonic and cyclic temperature variations should be investigated. To achieve this aim, using temperature-controlled oedometric and direct shear devices, consolidation and shear parameters of the studied soil at different monotonic (5, 20, and 50 °C) and cyclic (5 to 50 °C) temperatures were investigated. The results of temperature-controlled oedometric tests showed that the effect of the temperature variation is more pronounced under vertical pressures higher than the preconsolidation pressure. The compression and swelling indexes could be considered independent of temperature variations. Therefore, the overall settlement of the embankment due to thermal variation near the heat exchangers could be considered negligible. The results of temperature-controlled direct shear tests showed that the temperature variations (monotonic heating or cooling, or temperature cycles) increased the cohesion which is beneficial for the bearing capacity and slope stability of embankments. These results can be directly used in the design of embankments to store thermal energy exposed to similar thermo-mechanical paths. Finally, the thermal performance of the compacted soil is verified using a numerical simulation considering the soil atmosphere interaction. Different depths installation of heat exchanger loops and different heat storage scenarios were simulated. The results showed that the compacted soil increases 8.5% the systems performance compared to the horizontal loop installation in the local soil. The results of two different scenarios show that an inlet fluid temperature of 50 °C in summer increases highly the system performance (13.7% to 41.4%) while the improvement is less significant (0% to 4.8%) for the ambient inlet temperature. Moreover, a deeper installation of horizontal loops increases the system performance. From the numerical simulation results can be concealed that the embankment is in interaction with the atmosphere from its upper and lateral surfaces, the thermal efficiency of the structure could be affected due to heat losses. Therefore, it is preferable to place the heat exchangers away from the top and side surfaces.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - 8:44:25 AM
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Mojdeh Lahoori. Thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior of an embankment to store thermal energy. Géotechnique. Université de Lorraine, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020LORR0252⟩. ⟨tel-03203748⟩

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