In situ thermal properties characterization using frequential methods

O. Carpentier, D. Defer, E. Antczak, A. Chauchois, B. Duthoit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In numerous fields, especially that of geothermal energy, we need to know about the thermal behaviour of the soil now that the monitoring of renewable forms of energy is an ecological, economic and scientific issue. Thus heat from the soil is widely used for air-conditioning systems in buildings both in Canada and in the Scandinavian countries, and it is spreading. The effectiveness of this technique is based on the soils calorific potential and its thermophysical properties which will define the quality of the exchanges between the soil and a heat transfer fluid. This article puts forward a method to be used for the in situ thermophysical characterisation of a soil. It is based upon measuring the heat exchanges on the surface of the soil and on measuring a temperature a few centimetres below the surface. The system is light, inexpensive, well-suited to the taking of measurements in situ without the sensors used introducing any disturbance into the heat exchanges. Whereas the majority of methods require excitation, the one presented here is passive and exploits natural signals. Based upon a few hours of recording, the natural signals allow us to identify the soils thermophysical properties continuously. The identification is based upon frequency methods the quality of which can be seen when the thermophysical properties are injected into a model with finite elements by means of a comparison of the temperatures modelled and those actually measured on site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-307
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Diffusivity
  • Effusivity
  • Impedance
  • Soil
  • Thermal quadrupoles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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