Analysis of friction induced thermo-mechanical stresses on a heat exchanger pile in isothermal soil

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Ozudogru, Tolga Y.
Olgun, C. Guney
Arson, Chloé
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In most analytical and numerical models of heat exchanger piles, strain incompatibilities between the soil and the pile are neglected, and axial stresses imposed by temperature changes within the pile are attributed to the thermal elongation and shortening of the pile. These models incorporate thermo-hydro-mechanical couplings in the soil and within the pile foundation, but usually neglect thermo-mechanical couplings between the two media. Previous studies assume that the stress changes imposed by temperature variations in a heat exchanger pile are mainly due to the constrained thermal elongation and shortening of the pile. Also, several recent approaches utilize spring models that focus only on the soil-pile interface in modeling temperature-induced stresses in a heat exchanger pile and implicitly ignore the effect of the full displacement field on soil-pile interaction. By contrast, in this paper, interface elements are introduced in a numerical model of a heat exchanger pile, analyzed in axisymmetric and stationary conditions. The pile is subjected to a uniform temperature increase, with free top and fixed top conditions in elastic and elasto-plastic soil profiles. Simulation results show that the constrained vertical elongation is the most detrimental factor for pile foundation performance. However it is worth noticing that while mechanical constraints (e.g., fixed top and/or fixed bottom) impose maximum stress increases at the ends of the pile , interface effects result in maximum stresses around the mid-length of the pile. This preliminary study indicates that soil-pile friction does not increase pile internal stresses to the point where it would be necessary to over-dimension the foundation pile for heat exchanger use. Furthermore, one cannot expect a significant gain in foundation performance due to the improvement of soil-pile frictional resistance as a result of increased lateral stresses at soil-pile contact. Additional numerical analyses are ongoing, in order to investigate the role of the degree of fixity induced by the building on the heat exchanger pile, and to extend these preliminary analyses to transient operational modes and cyclic thermo-mechanical loading of the heat exchanger pile.
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