SI Tech CAD in the Community
Staten Island Museum Geothermal Well Model
In December of 2016 Mr. Erlenwein was approached by members of the Staten Island Museum education staff to see if our CAD program could produce a model that would be used to show students and schools who visit the Staten Island Museum a basic rendition of the Geothermal Well system at the museum. In reality, the geothermal well system they have there is incredibly complex with many many parts in their boiler rooms, as well as a massive array of underground pipes that are not visible. I tapped stellar student Ben Segall to help me analyze the system and strip it down to a simple model that would be able to be used as a visual aid to kids in the SI Museum classrooms.
A Geothermal Well system is a modern and very Earth-friendly approach to controlling air and water temperature in a structure. Let's go for a simplified explanation. The system consists of pipes with water or fluids that are mostly water placed into a closed network. The pipes are all connected to a series of pumps that move the water through the system at a regulated flow to control energy transfer. The well holes with the pipes are drilled almost 300 ft into the Earth where there is a constant ground temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer months, excess heated air is collected into the system and allowed to transfer into the pipes through a heat exchange. The liquid in the pipes (now hot from the air in the building) is pumped deep into the Earth where it is cooled naturally without leaving the pipe network. The fluid returns to the surface where the now cool liquid is used to further cool air and send the air through ducts into the building as a standard compressor on an air conditioner would. In the winter months, the same process is used to pull frigid untreated air into the system, send it into the network of pipes after energy transfers to the liquid where it is once again sent into the network to where it now heats to the desired temperature and is sent through the same duct-work into the museum as heated air, the same way a furnace would work. The naturally comfortable temperatures from the ground of the Earth allow adjustment of the air temperature in the museum through control of a thermostat as a standard HVAC system would operate. Its cheaper and has no carbon footprint other than the electricity needed to run the system, which is overall lower than standard systems.
Ben and I decided to keep things simple by purchasing a small cube display case at Michael's, along with some model train foliage. We then modeled the pipes in TinkerCAD and 3D printed them in house. We glued the pipe netowrk together and affixed it to the inside of the case, which was glass enclosed to show what would be underground. We used the top of the case to place a 3D printed model of the museum (also made in TinkerCAD) and the train foliage to replicate the grounds of Snug Harbor, where the museum is located. We were also slightly dissatisfied with the 3D printed pieces of our first model, and we knew we were getting some upgraded printers soon... so just a few months later Ben and I created a cleaner and stronger second version. It can be found at the Staten Island Museum in the basement, where the classrooms and education takes place.
Mr. Joe Buro
Mr. Ben Segall
Mr. Daniel Jost - Former CAD Teacher at SI Tech -
Board Member of the Staten Island Museum
Staten Island Museum Education Staff