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geothermal cooling

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Geothermal cooling is a type of renewable energy system that moves heat from a building to below the earth’s surface, using the ground like a heatsink.

Systems based on geothermal energy cool in much the same way that they heat, moving hot air through a geothermal heat pump or through air-to-liquid transfer. In the case of cooling, geothermal systems move heat from above ground to the cooler environment 20 feet under the earth's surface.

Water circulated through a geothermal loop carries heat below the earth’s surface, where it is absorbed into the ground; the cooled water is then carried back up to regulate the higher ambient temperature.

Due to the mass of the earth below, geothermal systems can cool even intense sources of heat. Geothermal cooling is used in green data centers and various industrial environments with almost no power use, no carbon production and no water used but that which exists within the closed system.

Another environmentally-friendly element of geothermal systems is the hardware: The below-ground loop can last for generations, and the above ground equipment for decades.

See also: net-zero energy building, off-grid data center, Green Grid

This was last updated in February 2014

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