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A Thermal Conductivity Model for Deformable and Unsaturated Soils to Assess the Thermal Behaviour of Energy Piles

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Agostino Bruno, Abdallah NajdiORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023, The Author(s). This paper presents an empirical model that predicts the thermal conductivity of soils by accounting for the effect of both the degree of saturation and void ratio on the heat exchange capacity of shallow geothermal reservoirs. The model is generated by the product of two terms: the former accounts for the effect of void ratio on the dry thermal conductivity, whereas the latter describes the influence of the degree of saturation on the moisture-dependent thermal conductivity. The model is a function of three parameters, which are easy to calibrate based on their physical meaning. Model predictions are validated against five different sets of experimental data from literature by means of two alternative approaches: blind prediction of thermal conductivity measurements not employed during calibration and numerical simulations of thermal tests performed on energy piles. Results show that the proposed model is capable of accurately predicting both the thermal conductivity of deformable unsaturated soils as well as reproducing the thermal behaviour of energy piles.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bruno AW, Najdi A, Balzano B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Geosynthetics and Ground Engineering

Year: 2023

Volume: 9

Issue: 5

Online publication date: 12/08/2023

Acceptance date: 24/07/2023

Date deposited: 15/09/2023

ISSN (print): 2199-9260

ISSN (electronic): 2199-9279

Publisher: Springer Nature


DOI: 10.1007/s40891-023-00478-3


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CRUI-CARE Agreement, Università degli Studi di Genova