The theory and practice of the renewable energy and the sustainability education have been directly and indirectly included as new curriculum materials in many engineering and technology programs. Solar, wind, and Hydrogen fuel cell systems are available green energy technologies supported with customized educational trainers and modules in higher education institutions. Meanwhile other clean and alternative energy technologies such as geothermal heat pumps have steadily become an energy and cost efficient alternate to traditional heating and cooling systems. This require specifically engineering technology students to better gain competencies of geothermal energy for applying industrial, residential, and commercial geothermal systems in design, installation, testing, operating, data acquisition, monitoring and troubleshooting of related geothermal systems. However, due to larger laboratory space requirements, larger physical size and the higher initial cost of geothermal energy applications, many engineering and technology institutions were not able to include them in the curriculum, therefore simulation studies were the mostly an option for students to understand geothermal heat pump design and operation.
Geothermal energy is the energy contained as heat in the Earth’s interior layer. The internal structure of the Earth together with the heat transfer mechanisms inside mantle and crust plays a significant role in the geothermal energy applications. Geothermal energy, as natural steam and hot water, has been exploited for decades to generate electricity, and both in space heating and industrial processes in many countries.
This paper describes the curriculum enhancement for an existing junior level alternative energy class in a B.S. in Engineering Technology program by adding geothermal energy fundamentals and applications in it. The curriculum includes; (1) the analysis of refrigeration cycle on a pressure-enthalpy diagram using pressures and temperatures measured in a FESTO Didactic geothermal heat pump system, (2) obtaining coefficient performance (COP) and the energy efficiency ratio (EER) of a geothermal heat pump using measured temperature, humidity, voltage, and current values in normal and different loading scenarios for safe and effective operation. National Instrument’s LabVIEWTM software and myDAQ data acquisition module integrated with variety of sensors are also used as modern tools for the instrumentation and interfacing of the geothermal heat pump system that resulted in increased students’ interest to a traditionally mechanical engineering and technology application.
This curriculum update serves as a major and minor class for multiple degree concentrations such as ECET, construction management, safety management, and engineering design and development in the department of engineering technology. The university’s recent strong partnership with a major energy services company also makes electrical power and renewable energy curriculum central to the University and College’s strategic planning that will produce future engineering technology graduates ready for implementing renewable energy technologies and applications on their areas of concentrations.
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