A Numerical Study for Groundwater Flow, Heat and Solute Transport Associated with Operation of Open-loop Geothermal System in Alluvial Aquifer

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Dong Kyu Park, Gwang-Ok Bae and Kang Kun Lee, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
The open-loop geothermal system directly uses a relatively stable temperature of groundwater for cooling and heating in buildings and thus has been known as an eco-friendly, energy-saving, and cost-efficient technique. The facility for this system was installed at a site located near Paldang-dam in Han-river, Korea. Because of the well-developed alluvium, the site might be appropriate to application of this system requiring extraction and injection of a large amount of groundwater. A simple numerical experiment assuming various hydrogeologic conditions demonstrated that regional groundwater flow direction was the most important factor for efficient operation of facility in this site having a highly permeable layer. However, a comparison of river stage data and groundwater level measurements showed that the daily and seasonal controls of water level at Paldang-dam have had a critical influence on the regional groundwater flow in the site. Moreover, nitrate concentrations measured in the monitoring wells gave indication of the effect of agricultural activities around the facility on the groundwater quality. The facility operation, such as extraction and injection of groundwater, will obviously affect transport of the agricultural contaminant and, maybe, it will even cause serious problems in the normal operation. Particularly, the high-permeable layer in this aquifer must be a preferential path for quick spreadings of thermal and contaminant plumes. The objective of this study was to find an efficient, safe and stable operation plan of the open-loop geothermal system installed in this site having the complicated conditions of highly permeable layer, variable regional groundwater flow, and agricultural contamination. Numerical simulations for groundwater flow, heat and solute transport were carried out to analyze all the changes in groundwater level and flow, temperature, and quality according to the operation, respectively. Results showed that an operation plan for only the thermal efficiency of system cannot be the best in aspect of safe and stable operation related to groundwater quality. All these results concluded that it is essential to understand various and site-specific conditions of the site in a more integrated approach for the successful application of the open-loop geothermal system.