Modelling of a generalized thermal conductivity for granular multiphase geomaterial design purposes

Soil thermal conductivity has an important role in geo-energy applications such as high voltage buried power cables, oil and gas pipelines, shallow geo-energy storage systems and heat transfer modelling. Hence, improvement of thermal conductivity of geomaterials is important in many engineering applications. In this thesis, an extensive experimental investigation was performed to enhance the thermal conductivity of geomaterials by modifying particle size distribution into fuller curve gradation, and by adding fine particles in an appropriate ratio as fillers. A significant improvement in the thermal conductivity was achieved with the newly developed geomaterials. An adaptive model based on artificial neural networks (ANNs) was developed to generalize the different conditions and soil types for estimating the thermal conductivity of geomaterials. After a corresponding training phase of the model based on the experimental data, the ANN model was able to predict the thermal conductivity of the independent experimental data very well. In perspective, the model can be supplemented with data of further soil types and conditions, so that a comprehensive representation of the saturation-dependent thermal conductivity of any materials can be prepared. The numerical 'black box' model developed in this way can generalize the relationships between different materials for later added amounts of data and soil types. In addition to the model development, a detailed validation was carried out using different geomaterials and boundary conditions to reinforce the applicability and superiority of the prediction models.




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