EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Numerical modelling of ice forming and thawing in a subsurface energy storage application

Tymofiy Gerasimov1, Dmitrii Naumov1, Thomas Nagel2, Olaf Kolditz1, and Haibing Shao1
Tymofiy Gerasimov et al.
  • 1Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ, Department of Environmental Informatics, Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Freiberg, Germany

In the context of shallow subsurface ice storage, low temperature coolant fluid is circulated through multiple borehole heat exchangers (BHEs) to form ice in the surrounding soil. This can be used later on in building cooling applications. To evaluate the environmental impact of freezing and thawing cycles, we extended the classical Thermal-Hydro-Mechanical model in the OpenGeoSys software platform to simulate the aforementioned phase change scenarios.

The new feature development and verification is divided into several subsequent steps. In the model verification, the Stefan problem of slab melting is employed as the benchmark case: the numerical results from OpenGeoSys is verified against the available analytical solution. In the subsequent code verification, the concept of manufactured solution is adopted, in which the numerical outcome is compared with the reference data to show accurate agreement. Following that, the ultimate verification is conducted by comparing results from OpenGeoSys and the open source package like FreeFEM++.

For the application of the extended numerical model, we simulate the ice formation around the four BHEs in 3 dimensions for a quarter of the test field setup and over a period of 30 days. With -15 oC temperature imposed on the lower section of the BHE wall and the considered material data, the numerical simulation suggests an up to 50 cm thick layer of frozen soil surrounding the borehole. In the model results, major volumetric deformation of soil is observed in the close vicinity of the BHEs where the ice grows, also triggering small vertical surface elevation. Current on-going work is focusing on the coupling effect between thermal conductivity of soil, mechanical deformation and hydrology, where one of the envisioned impacts is the groundwater flow deviation due to the ice formed.

How to cite: Gerasimov, T., Naumov, D., Nagel, T., Kolditz, O., and Shao, H.: Numerical modelling of ice forming and thawing in a subsurface energy storage application, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-11566,, 2023.