Juneau airport makeover includes addding geothermal heat system 

From Anne Sutton with KTOO: A $20 million expansion and renovation of the Juneau International Airport terminal is underway. Another $40 million is being spent on the runway safety areas. The $20 million renovation includes a modern heating system that will replace oil fired boilers with clean energy. The electrically-powered ground source heat pump system taps geothermal energy, that is, energy extracted from heat stored in the earth. Read more

REAP Communications Director Stephanie Nowers also recently talked with Airport Architect Catherine Fritz about the details of the project: Crews at the Juneau International Airport are finishing up work installing a ground source heat pump system that is expected to reduce energy costs by up to $85,000 a year. The $1 million project is part of a bigger upgrade at the airport, and is one of the first such projects of its kind in Alaska. It is also one of a few – although not the only – such project at an airport.  Nantucket Memorial Airport in Massachusetts recently installed a similar geothermal system and owners of Orly Airport in Paris have announced plans to tap geothermal power for heating and cooling.

In addition to the Juneau airport, a similar ground source heat pump project is also underway at Juneau’s Dimond Park Aquatic Center. Both Juneau projects received funding through the state’s Renewable Energy Grant Fund ($513,000 for the airport and $1.3 million for the aquatic center). Unlike projects that tap into hot spots in the Earth’s crust, both Juneau projects work by simply taking advantage of the fact that underground temperatures stay constant year round. In the case of the airport, that temperature is about 42 degrees. For the project, crews drilled pipes 360 feet into the ground. An anti-freeze solution is pumped through the pipes, which brings the heat from underground to the surface where it is then used to warm the air.  Electric heat pumps are still needed to heat the air up to room temperature of about 65 degrees, but it takes much less energy because the starting point of the air is 42 degrees not zero degrees as can be the case during the winter. The airport project was designed by Doug Murray of Murray and Associates in consultation with Jim Rehfeldt, of Alaska Energy Engineering LLC. For more information, contact Airport Architect Catherine Fritz at 586-0452.

Curious to know more about how the geothermal heat pump systems work, check out the U.S. Department of Energy website at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/heatpumps.html or this graphic at http://www.solarpowerwindenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/geothermalpump.jpg

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