ASKAP Case Study

geothermal case study


GHCA had involvement in a Project called the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder project,  GHCA assisted Aurecon The Principal design Engineers  in the design,  specification and feasibility study and procurement budgeting  for a Geothermal Cooling system for a High tech Data centre Located in the Desert of Western Australia

The ASKAP is a Precursor to the SKA the world’s largest telescope system,  see the official SKA website links,  they are located further down this page

The ASKAP project is located at Boolardy station located 430Km north east of Geraldton approximately 800Km north of Perth right in the middle of the West Australian desert,

Located at the site is the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory Building which receives Data from 36 Antennas the Data is processed in a super computer inside the MRO Building

As distribution hub for power and data cables which connect the site to the outside world, development of the building required unique construction solutions for challenges associated with the remote location and stringent RFI specifications, which make the MRO one of the best locations for radio astronomy.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling Assisted Aurecon with the budget pricing and designs,  GHCA and contractors also advised and assisted with the Thermal conductivity testing which was completed on site,  the Project is the first closed loop geothermal system in Western Australia

A number of issues were addressed during the design phase, these were addressing the suitability of which technologies were suitable to be used,   with all the computer equipment inside the building needed some major cooling approximately 400kW of cooling

One of the major problems that needed to be overcome was that Traditional Cooling systems use outdoor Fans and Noisy equipment because of the Radio Frequency Interference issues Ground Source heat Pumps were the Best option as the systems can be installed inside the building,

GHCA also worked out that by using a geothermal heating and cooling system it would save client hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in diesel powered electrical generation costs

When choosing which Technology was suitable for the project Aurecon chose a water based geothermal ground source heat pump system over a Direct Energy Exchange system based on reliability, The CSIRO trialled a Direct Energy Exchange system for cooling the Antenna, the Direct Energy Exchange Heat Pump system is no longer in use and all the cooling of computer and data equipment is done in the main MRO building with the water based geothermal cooling system

Direct Energy Exchange systems are not suited for these types of applications GHCA do not use or Recommend Direct Energy Exchange systems, Water Source Geothermal ground source heat pump systems should always be designed by a certified design engineer

When designing the system special consideration needed to be paid to the ground loop, because the ASKAP Geothermal system is for cooling only, the water temperatures and the ground temperatures are to rise,   a special grout and REHAU Pex-A pipe were specified and installed

A special drilling, casing and grouting and installation method was required and specialist Geothermal Drilling and grouting equipment was used for the project

There were 96 geothermal boreholes drilled to 124M with a 4 pipe vertical borehole heat exchanger

Please see the attached as constructed drawings

Link to ASKAP official websites

click onto the Google maps location if you look closely you can see the area where the Geothermal bore field is located, the MRO building and the Antennas

View Larger Map

Geothermal Heating and Cooling Australia estimated that a saving of approximately $200,000 per year in diesel is to be saved  by using a Geothermal Cooling system,   not to mention the CO2 savings and less maintenance costs

If you have a data centre or computer room or any building that needs Cooling or Heating please Contact Geothermal Heating and Cooling Australia on 1300 735 949