Modeling Earth Systems and Environment

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 143–158 | Cite as

Model development and performance evaluation of an earth air heat exchanger under a constrained urban environment

  • V. Rangarajan
  • R. Singh
  • Priyanka KaushalEmail author
Original Article


An earth air heat exchanger (EAHE) is an underground heat exchanger that captures or dissipates heat to the ground and hence moderates the temperature of the air flowing through it. Though a promising energy efficient option for thermal comfort, EAHE has not diffused much in the society. One reason for its limited application is space constraint. This includes restrictions on the length and route of the EAHE pipe, positioning of the EAHE, the forced interaction between the civil foundations and the EAHE etc. In order to investigate the effectiveness of such a ‘constrained’ EAHE, an EAHE was installed under such urban constraints and its performance was measured. Simultaneously a predictive 3-dimensional numerical transient model was developed to study the impact of model parameters on the EAHE’s performance. The model was coded on the MATLAB platform. The developed mathematical model is robust, and it was validated at sites with and without urban constraints across three climatic zones. Model predictions were in good agreement with the measured values. The data and model predictions confirmed that in a semi-arid climatic zone if a constrained EAHE is placed strategically, its performance is not compromised, and it provides the desired cooling even when it is installed at a shallower depth.


Earth air heat exchanger (EAHE) Urban site Transient Model 



Albedo of the ground surface


Emissivity of the ground


Long wave emission from the ground


Density (kg m−3)


Volume fraction


Length (m)


Size of the control volume

a, b



Specific heat of air (J kg−1 K−1)


Volumetric heat capacity (J m−3 K−1)


Inner diameter (m)


Outer diameter (m)


Earth to air heat exchanger


Suffixes to indicate parameter values respectively to the right, left, above, below, in front and behind of the control volume under evaluation


Moisture fraction


Solar global irradiance incident on the ground (Wm−2)


Convection heat transfer coefficient (Wm−1 K−1)


Thermal conductivity (Wm−1 K−1)


Net total radiation (W m−2)


Relative humidity of air near the ground surface


Inner radius (m)


Heat source (Wm−3)


Standard data set


Temperature in (°C)


Time (s)


Velocity (ms−1)


Rectangular co-ordinate axes



The authors would like to thank TERI School of Advanced Studies, Delhi, Landmark Design Group, Pune and Dr. VVN Kishore for their expert comments and support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Energy and EnvironmentTERI School of Advanced StudiesDelhiIndia
  2. 2.Solar Energy DivisionSardar Patel Renewable Energy Research InstituteVallabh Vidya NagarIndia

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