First-ever geothermal heat pumps at Edwards AFB
A high-tech government facility adds its (first ever) geo heat pumps at Edwards AFB for its fuel processing lab.
The first ever geothermal heat pumps at Edwards Air Force Base has landed on the high desert near Rosamond, California. This site of aviation history has been pivotal in the development of all kinds of high
speed, high altitude aircraft, ever since the Bell X-1 chased (and finally broke) the sound barrier, and paved the way for the X-15, experimental lifting bodies, and ultimately the space shuttle, which made a number of landings here. Technological development continues in the region with private sub-orbital space aircraft.
But in a more down-to-earth (and literally underneath the earth system) deep, grouted geothermal boreholes in the part of the base serving Edwards’ fuel processing lab were installed in the northern portion of the base in 2016. The U-bend pipes in those
boreholes carry water to and from heat pumps inside the building and provide heating and cooling for interior space. The yearly climate at the base displays a need for both heating and cooling, so heat will be dissipated via the underground heat exchanger in summer and gathered and imported back through it in winter.
The base also completed a previous installation in 2011 of three solar PV arrays with single axis tracking from east-to-west, so they follow the sun, all day long. These installations total 3.4 megawatts of electric capacity and intertie with both Southern California Edison and the base’s own 34.5 Kv micro-grid.
The solar project was built with ARRA funds (American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) but the defense department has a multi-decade history of installing renewable thermal and electric energy on its bases. The pairing of solar photovoltaic power and geothermal heat pumps is the quickest path toward zero net energy buildings (or military bases).