Areas of Academic Interest
Thermal properties of soils
Modelling and simulation of thermal systems
Ground thermal energy storage and heat pump systems
Organic Rankine cycles
Did you know that a promising, renewable energy storage technique is right under your feet? Wey Leong is developing it. A mechanical engineer with expertise in high-temperature ground thermal storage, he is using computer modelling to develop methods for storing heat energy deep in the ground.
Here’s the premise: In the summer, heat energy from a solar collector is transferred into water that is then pumped down pipes fitted into vertical boreholes drilled in the ground. The heat in the water then transfers into the surrounding earth. Depending on the soil type (moist clay is the best for holding thermal energy), the heat can be retained for months. Then, in the depths of winter, the process can be reversed to bring the heat back to the surface for space heating in homes and buildings. “Aside from minimal electricity to power a pump, the system will be entirely renewable,” says Leong.
Leong and his team are currently getting their hands dirty testing the thermal properties of soil samples from all over Canada. “We want a template for assessing any geographic area based on its potential to store heat underground.”
“Sometimes, the most innovative ideas can be found in the most common of places.”
- Lyu, C., Leong, W.H., Zheng, M., Jiang, P., Yu, F., and Liu, Y. “Dynamic Simulation and Operating Characteristics of Ground-Coupled Heat Pump With Solar Seasonal Heat Storage System.” Heat Transfer Engineering, DOI 10.1080/01457632.2019.1576423 (2019).
- Hedayati-Dezfooli, M., and Leong, W.H. “An Experimental Study of Coupled Heat and Moisture Transfer in Soils at High Temperature Conditions for a Medium Coarse Soil.” International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, vol. 137, 2019, pp. 372-389.
- Fine, J.P., Nguyen, H.V., Friedman, J., Leong W.H., and Dworkin, S.B. “A Simplified Ground Thermal Response Model for Analyzing Solar-assisted Ground Source Heat Pump Systems.” Energy Conversion and Management, vol. 165, 2018, pp. 276-290.
- McCombie, M.L., Tarnawski, V.R., Bovesecchi, G., Coppa, P., and Leong, W.H. “Thermal Conductivity of Pyroclastic Soil (Pozzolana) from the Environs of Rome.” International Journal of Thermophysics, 38:21, DOI 10.1007/s10765-016-2161-y (2017).
- Tarnawski, V.R., and Leong, W.H. “Advanced Geometric Mean Model for Predicting Thermal Conductivity of Unsaturated Soils.” International Journal of Thermophysics, 37:18, DOI 10.1007/s10765-015-2024-y (2016).
- Thermofluids Research Laboratory