Heat exchange modeling in a multilayered karst aquifer affected by seawater intrusion

Luca Vettorello, Roberto Pedron, Andrea Sottani, Michele Chieco
  • Roberto Pedron
    Sinergeo s.r.l., Contrà del Pozzetto 4 - 36100 Vicenza, Italy
  • Andrea Sottani
    Sinergeo s.r.l., Contrà del Pozzetto 4 - 36100 Vicenza, Italy
  • Michele Chieco
    Servizio Ecologia Regione Puglia, Italy


A Feflow thermohaline model has been implemented in order to study borehole heat exchangers (BHEs) activity in a coastal aquifer in the South of Italy (Province of Lecce, Puglia Region). The modeled closed-loop system consists of two double u-pipe heat exchangers, installed in 200 meters deep boreholes. The main purpose of numerical modeling was to forecast thermal plume extension in groundwater after a long period of heat exchange, calculating temperature trends in observation points during a 10 years transport simulation. The complex geological structure, including calcarenites, fractured limestones and a deep karst aquifer, has been translated into a multilayered model, with a depth-related parameter distribution, assigning different values of hydraulic, thermal and chemical properties to each layer. In particular saltwater concentration has been taken into account, considering the influence of seawater intrusion on the heat transport density-dependent model. Parameters assignment was based on experimental datasets collected during initial field investigations, including thermal characterization of soil samples and GRTs, together with historical hydrogeological and hydrochemical measures and previous groundwater surveys. After model structure configuration and aquifers parameterization, a sensitivity analysis on porosity and heat dispersivity has been conducted, to evaluate their influence on thermal transport phenomena with a multiple scenarios approach, considering in particular the uncertainty related to secondary porosity in karst systems. Feflow simulation represented the first step in environmental compatibility evaluation for the BHE plant, waiting for the necessary model calibration with groundwater temperature monitoring trends.


heat transport modeling, low enthalpy geothermal energy, borehole exchanger, coastal aquifers, karst

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Submitted: 2015-10-12 09:28:16
Published: 2015-11-30 00:00:00
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