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Geothermal heating and cooling ventilation system

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Geothermal heating and cooling ventilation system

A system designed to introduce fresh air ventilation into the living space, eliminate contaminants, and add fresh air to augment a building's HVAC system. This is done in order to save energy, and the costs associated with heat loss in a building. The system employs the use of geothermal energy conferred to air via a cavity which is constructed in the basement, on the slab, in the crawl space and/or attic of a building. This cavity is created to circulate to absorb the geo and/or solar characteristics of a building, taking advantage of the consistent subterranean temperature of the earth and/or sun, in order to warm air from outside during the winter minimizing a heat sink, and cool air during the summer. One or more heat exchangers are used to transfer the energy from contaminated air in the cavity to clean air destined for the HVAC system.

Inventors: James P. Wright, Walter L. Bennett, IV
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120305214 - Class: 165 45 (USPTO) - 12/06/12 - Class 165 
Heat Exchange > Geographical

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120305214, Geothermal heating and cooling ventilation system.

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This is a non-provisional application of provisional patent application No. 61/493,404 filed on Jun. 3, 2011, and priority is claimed thereto.


The present invention relates to an air flow system, integrated into the structural foundation of a building, which employs the natural insulation of the earth\'s top soil to warm or cool air to an approximate temperature of 55 degrees, in order to assist the HVAC system of the building. A system of ducts is implemented and are designed to adapt to the seasonal changes in temperature, enabling both supplemental geothermal cooling in the summer, and geothermal warming in the winter. The present invention relies on the insulation properties of the subterranean basement of a conventional building, and takes advantage of the relatively consistent temperature maintained within a cavity underground. The present invention can heat or cool a dwelling by capturing the temperature differential of an attic, solar source or geothermal cavity as compared to the temperature of the dwelling.


In energy conscious times, with the cost of energy steadily rising, the desire to save money and energy has never been greater. From gas-saving hybrid vehicles to increasingly efficient insulation systems, individuals and corporations the world over are taking drastic strides to reduce their energy consumption. Unfortunately, the energy savings of making homes tight has resulted in indoor air quality concerns. There are current code concerns for indoor air quality.

Much of the focus of addressing the problem of energy consumption lately has been concentrated on investigating and enhancing alternative, renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power. While great strides have been made in solar technology in recent years, the cost is still prohibitive for the average consumer. Wind power has grown in popularity as well; however, utilizing the system requires a great deal of space in order to produce sufficient energy. At the same time, wind turbines and their accompanying batteries and capacitors are conventionally only effective as a supplement to conventional power from the electric grid, given that the turbines will not capture energy from the wind if there is no circulation of air or wind outside. Similarly, geothermal energy plants have been constructed which effectively harvest energy insulated within the earth\'s crust or top soil. Conventionally, geothermal energy is generally only employed for energy generation to supplement fossil fuel power. However, given that geothermal energy is stored nearly uniformly underground, and is generally constant, the integration of geothermal energy as a supplemental power source for cost-conscious individuals could significantly reduce energy costs on a smaller, more independent scale, rather than simply at a geothermal energy plant.

If there were a way to utilize the geothermal properties of the earth in order to reduce energy costs on a smaller, individual scale, the strain on the conventional energy grid could be substantially reduced. Thus, there exists a need for a supplemental system, based on the geothermal properties of the earth, which could be implemented into a building in order to reduce the heating and cooling costs traditionally associated with the use of solely conventional power.

While geothermal devices are known, extensive land is traditionally required, as well as expensive drilling down into the earth\'s crust. Thus there is a need for a device that can employ conventional geothermal concepts while integrating into the existing house structure, without elaborate drilling or damage to the foundations of a house or building.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,319,115 for “Air Cycle Houses and House Ventilation System” by Shingaki, issued on Nov. 20, 2001, shows an “air cycle house” house with “an underfloor ventilation layer, a wall insulating layer and a ceiling insulating layer laid externally of the floor, the interior wall and the ceiling, respectively.” An air intake which can be opened and shut is formed “through the exterior wall, the wall insulating layer and the interior wall to provide communication with the indoor space and the underfloor ventilation layer.” Shingaki\'s invention “allows outdoor air to flow through the wall ventilation layer which locates externally of the wall insulating layer surrounding the indoor space. Since the air can pass through the wall ventilation layer upwardly into the underroof space, the inside of the wall is also protected from mold, ticks, dew condensation, etc.” Shingaki, like the present invention, uses a subfloor and dual walls for ventilation purposes. However, unlike the present invention, Shingaki does not employ heat exchangers, and is not configured to provide year-round functionality. Additionally, the insulating layers proposed by Shingaki do not travel the area of the flooring and walls in the same manner as the present invention, nor does Shengaki employ heat exchangers to ensure the safety of the air as free from contaminants.

U.S. Pub. No. 2008/0230206 for “Energy Recovery and Humidity Control” by Lestage et al., published on Sep. 25, 2008, shows a system that utilizes an enclosure “which contains an enthalpy exchange core and a heat exchange sub-core and a plurality of ducts”. The enclosure is installed in a basement, crawlspace or cellar, with ducts that receive air from the outside and supply air to the dwelling. However, unlike the present invention, Lestage et al. does not employ heat exchangers, and is not configured constantly circulate fresh air into the home, eliminating issues of contamination.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,843,786 for “Enclosure Conditioned Housing System” by Walkinshaw et al., issued on Jul. 4, 1989, shows “a continuous building basement wall and floor cavity,” the cavity being placed around the outer walls and floor of a basement. Ventilated air is moved through the cavity in order to thermally condition the basement enclosure structure. However, unlike the present invention, Walkinshaw et al is configured to condition the air of the basement of a structure only, whereas the present invention employs air that is circulated along the envelope of a subterranean basement of a building in order to alter the temperature of fresh air pumped into the building from outdoors.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,843,718 for “Method of Guiding External Air etc.” by Schmitz, issued on Jan. 18, 2005, shows a method for guiding external air in a building shell and in a building. The method uses an “inner gap” and “outer gap,” with external air brought into the outer gap and reaching the inner gap through a permeable layer. Schmitz varies from the present invention in that it does not employ heat exchangers in order to ensure the safety of air destined for the living space of the building.



The present invention is a supplemental heating and cooling system which employs the geothermal properties of the earth to reduce the strain on a building\'s conventional HVAC system. The system is integrated into the foundation of a home or building, and utilizes the cavity of the building\'s basement and/or slab and/or attic to enact a heat exchange system in conjunction with a system of ducts designed to facilitate air circulation while providing ample time for the geothermal properties of the earth to heat or cool circulated air.

The system of the present invention is designed to function differently according to the changes in seasonal temperature. The present invention preferably requires the installation of a sealed, double walled, double floored basement enclosure, which creates a geothermal air cavity between the concrete foundation of the house, and the artificial walls and flooring. The geothermal air cavity extends across the entirety of the basement foundation in order to take advantage of the greatest area exposed to the relatively stable ground temperature. The intent of the present invention is circulate air within this basement geothermal air cavity, which is similar to the cavity within a insulated drinking thermos, and employ the relatively static ground temperature to slowly heat air from outside the house in the winter, which may exist at temperatures well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, up to the approximate, relative ground temperature, often cited to exist between 45 and 65 degrees, depending on location. Similarly, air is cooled in this same fashion during the summer months. Air is pumped through a series of ducts and down into the geothermal air cavity created below and aside the basement walls and ceiling, altering the temperature of the air. It is commonly understood that, in the summer months, the subterranean basement maintains a cooler temperature than the rest of the house due to the properties of energy. Similarly, in the winter months, the basement maintains a warmer temperature than the outside air, given that the air is insulated sufficiently, and is kept slightly warmer due to the geothermal properties of the earth. Additionally, the present invention employs a system of fail-safes to ensure that potentially contaminated air that was circulated within the basement cavity does not enter the home or building, but rather, the energy is transferred via a system of heat exchangers.

Advantages to the system of the present invention include the ease of installation, the implementation of a vacuum within the walls and under the foam layer employed by the present invention, as well as 24-hour fresh air ventilation. Additionally, more usable living space is made available via the elimination of common basement contaminants such as mold, mildew, radon, and organic matter. The present invention establishes a similar or same temperature and humidity level from the basement, all the way up to the top floor of a building, meaning that all floors of the building may be used by inhabitants comfortably, even in extreme weather.


FIG. 1 displays a view of the basement integration of the closed loop process of air flow of the present invention as viewed from above.

FIG. 2 exhibits a cutaway view of the walls and flooring of the present invention which constitute the basis for the geothermal air cavity of the present invention.

FIG. 3 displays a diagram depicting the path of air through the system of the present invention as directed by the ‘summer open loop’ process.

FIG. 4 shows a view of the walls and flooring of the geothermal air cavity of the present invention as viewed from above.

FIG. 5 is an image showing the path of air during the winter open loop process of the present invention.

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Application #
US 20120305214 A1
Publish Date
Document #
File Date
165 45
Other USPTO Classes
International Class

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