18 May 2017

P.1.2.1 Heat pump design student project applies thermal and thermodynamic theory to real life engineering work

Engineering students get separate courses on different topics. In the thermal and thermodynamic field this comprises e.g. Engineering Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer, with related courses such as Numerical Methods, Electrical Engineering and Control Theory. However, students find it difficult to see how these topics are interconnected and to have a clear view how this knowledge is applied in their working career.
For this reason a new student project (4 credits) was set up on the design of a ground coupled heat pump system for an office building. The process of going through all design steps of this typical engineering job, and hereby relating every step to the corresponding theory, allows to link theory with a real life example and demonstrate how course topics interact. The goal was to use hand methods not requiring specific software, which forced students to program the related equations in a python notebook, instead of just filling in numbers. Defining boundary conditions, calculating heating and cooling load, estimating a load duration curve, defining base and peak load emission systems, designing the hydraulic and aeraulic distribution system layout and sizing a ground coupled heat pump with direct cooling were required steps in order to finalize the design.
This project proved very useful to apply theory touching topics as steady-state and transient heat transfer, heat exchangers, thermodynamic cycles, psychrometry, dynamic system analysis and system simulation. Future courses will add extra focus on heat pump design and pump or fan sizing.