Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Experimental analysis of subsurface heating and irrigation on the temperature and water content of soils Public Deposited

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  • Multiple use of waste heat from power plants may become an important consideration in the development, siting, and certification of these plants. A multiple use system of components that can beneficially utilize waste heat may include home heating and cooling, greenhouses, animal enclosures, open basins for single cell protein production and fish farming, and open field soil warming. A subsurface irrigation-soil warming system utilizing waste heat was analyzed in this study. Thermal power plant condenser cooling water pumped through buried porous pipes was considered as a heat and water source for soil heating and subsurface irrigation. Energy is transferred from the heat source to the surrounding soil, warming it above its natural temperature. In addition, water seeping from the porous pipe prevents drying around the heat source and supplies the plant roots throughout the soil profile while avoiding the large evaporation losses at the soil surface associated with surface irrigation methods. Experiments were conducted in the laboratory to study this system. Soil was packed in containers 48 cm deep, 40 cm wide, and 4 cm thick. A heat source consisting of a copper covered electrical resistance wire was placed against one side of the box at a depth of 32 cm. A water source consisting of a porous tube was placed 2 cm above the heat source. The contained soil slab thus represented a subsurface soil warming and irrigation system with heat and water sources at depths of 32 and 30 cm respectively and a 77 cm spacing. A series of experiments was conducted with heat source temperatures of 29, 36, and 44 C, and surface heat load cycles with maxima of 0, 13, 52, and 117 watts. These experiments were repeated for Quincy, Cloquato, and Chehalis soils. The box filled with soil was saturated with water and then drained. Experiments were initiated by energizing the heat source. Temperature distributions throughout the soil profile and rates of energy dissipation were measured. Water application rates required to maintain a constant soil water content were obtained. In each experiment, water was applied at such a rate that the water content at a point near the heat source, monitored with a gamma ray attenuation system, remained constant. Apparent thermal conductivities of Quincy, Cloquato, and Chehalis soils as a function of water content were measured at 25 and 45 C by the heat probe method. The soil apparent thermal conductivity was also computed from a theoretical model based on its mineral composition, porosity, water content, and the thermal conductivity of the individual components. This model takes into account the vapor flow contribution to the apparent thermal conductivity in wet soils. Its magnitude depends on the available air-filled pore space, total porosity, and the free energy of the retained water. Predicted and experimental values of thermal conductivities showed good agreement. Soil temperature distributions were calculated using theoretical models presented in the literature. Predicted and measured isotherms showed good agreement. Energy dissipation rates as a function of soil thermal conductivity, temperature differences between heat source and soil surface, and depth and spacing of heat source were obtained. They were in agreement with those calculated from theoretical considerations. The total land area required to dissipate the waste energy from a 1000 MWe power plant operating with 34 percent efficiency was calculated for each of the three soils used in the experiments. It was found that 2841, 3714, and 4390 hectare would be required for Quincy, Cloquato, and Chehalis soils respectively. Quincy soil would require the smallest land area for this purpose because of its higher thermal conductivity. Economical and technical considerations for the installation of subsurface heating and irrigation systems require flat land close to the electrical power plant. Large areas of flat land are not always present. Subsurface irrigation replenished water lost by surface evaporation. Water use rates were obtained as a function of temperature differences between heat source and soil surface, soil type, and a range of surface heat loads. The water application rates ranged from 1.50 mm/day for Chehalis soil with a heat source temperature of 29 C in combination with the lowest surface heat load to 6.0 mm/day for Quincy soil with a heat source temperature of 44 C in combination with the highest surface heat load. These rates were adequate to prevent drying around the heat sources and supply the water needs of an actively growing crop. The effective use of this system depends on the development of suitable tubing to conduct and discharge water which could be used without clogging of the pores through which water seeps into the ground. The proposed soil warming and irrigation system does not appear to be an attractive alternative power plant cooling system. The system holds promise however as an economically attractive management system for the production of high value crops.
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