Exergy Analysis of a Ground-Coupled Heat Pump


This tutorial shows how to set up and carry out an exergy analysis for a ground-coupled heat pump (GCHP). In addition, various post-processing options are presented. To investigate the impact of refrigerant choice on COP and exergetic efficiency, two Python scripts of the same network with different refrigerants (NH3 and R410A) are created. Finally, the influence of varying different parameters on COP and exergy efficiency is investigated and plotted.


Please note, currently this tutorial is intended to show the user, how to carry out an exergy analysis for a simple system and how to use this toolbox in several investigations of a specific system. While there is a very short description of the setup, methodology and results, an in-depth discussion of the method and the results is not yet provided. If you would like to add this to the documentation you are welcome to contact us via our GitHub.

Since there is an existing tutorial for creating a heat pump, this tutorial starts with the explanations for setting up the exergy analysis. Note however, that the heat pump model differs slightly in structure from the model in the previous tutorial. All related Python scripts of the fully working GCHP-model are listed in the following:

The figure below shows the topology of the GCHP. In this model, a ground-coupled heat pump is modeled, which is for instance connected to a single-family house with underfloor heating. The heating system represents the heat demand of the house. The geothermal heat collector is represented by a ground heat feed flow (Source) and return flow (Sink). The heat pump circuit consists of the basic components: condenser, expansion valve, evaporator and compressor.

Topology of the Ground-Couped Heat Pump (GCHP)

Figure: Topology of the Ground-Couped Heat Pump (GCHP).

Topology of the Ground-Couped Heat Pump (GCHP)

Figure: Topology of the Ground-Couped Heat Pump (GCHP).

The input data of the model are based on different literature. In general, the model of the GCHP is based on a data sheet of a real heat pump (Viessmann Vitocal 300-G ). However, the data are used as approximate values to create a model that works with both NH3 and R410A, although the mentioned heat pump is designed to use R410A. The range of the underfloor heating system temperature and the range of the geothermal temperature are assumptions based on measured data from the research project WPsmart and [2]. The average outdoor temperature is taken from [2].

TESPy model

In principle, the GCHP-model corresponds to the flowsheet shown above. The heating system and the geothermal heat collector can be modeled as sources and sinks, which represent the feed and the return flow in both cases. The condenser is modeled as Condenser instance, while the evaporator is modeled using HeatExchanger instance. In total, the TESPy model consists of 11 components.

In real systems, the circulating brine in the geothermal collector usually consists of a mixture of water and antifreeze. Pure water is used as the circulating fluid in this example. In fact, some geothermal collectors are filled with water, provided that the ground temperature is high enough throughout the year, such as in [2].

The following parameter specifications were made for the design case calculation:

  • isentropic efficiency values

  • electrical conversion efficiencies of compressor and pumps

  • terminal temperature difference values at condenser and evaporator

  • pressure losses in condenser and evaporator

  • hot and cold side heat transfer coefficients of evaporator

  • temperature difference to boiling point of refrigerant at compressor inlet

  • temperatures and pressure of heating system feed and return flow

  • temperatures and pressure of geothermal heat collector feed and return flow

  • condenser heat output

The model using NH3 as refrigerant and the model using R410A as refrigerant differ in the fluid definition, the naming of the stored files and the specification of the starting values only. The definition of the starting values is necessary to obtain a numerical solution for the first calculation. In this tutorial, the given code examples are shown exemplary for the model with NH3 as refrigerant only.

The units used, and the ambient state are defined as follows:

nw = Network(
    T_unit='C', p_unit='bar',
    h_unit='kJ / kg', m_unit='kg / s'

pamb = 1.013
Tamb = 2.8

For the model using R410A as refrigerant, the fluid definition is accordingly 'R410A' instead of 'NH3'.

The temperature of the heating system feed flow is set to 40 °C in design calculation. The difference between feed and return flow temperature is kept constant at 5 °C. Therefore, the return flow is set to 35 °C.

The geothermal heat collector temperature is defined as follows:

Tgeo = 9.5

Tgeo is the mean geothermal temperature. The difference between feed and return flow temperature is kept constant at 3 °C. Therefore, the feed flow temperature in the design calculation is set to Tgeo + 1.5 °C and the return flow temperature is set to Tgeo - 1.5 °C.

The complete Python code of the TESPy models is available in the scripts NH3.py with NH3 as refrigerant and R410A.py with R410A as refrigerant. All other specified values of the component and connection parameters can be found in these Python scripts.

In the scripts NH3_calculations.py and R410A_calculations.py, the Python code of the TESPy models of the GCHP is extended to handle the different tasks mentioned in the introduction. In these two scripts you can find the corresponding Python code for all calculations that will be presented in the next sections of the tutorial. As previously mentioned, the given code examples in the following are only shown exemplary for the GCHP with NH3 as refrigerant. If the scripts differ beyond the mentioned points, it will be pointed out at the respective place of the tutorial.


At first, we will have a short look at the h-log(p)-diagram of the process, exemplary for NH3 as working fluid. Such diagrams are useful to better understand a process, therefore we will quickly present how to generate it using TESPy with fluprodia. For more information and installation instructions for fluprodia please have a look at the online documentation.

The data for the diagram are first saved in a dictionary result_dict using the get_plotting_data method of each component that is to be visualized.

from fluprodia import FluidPropertyDiagram

result_dict = {}
result_dict.update({ev.label : ev.get_plotting_data()[2]})
result_dict.update({cp.label : cp.get_plotting_data()[1]})
result_dict.update({cd.label : cd.get_plotting_data()[1]})
result_dict.update({va.label : va.get_plotting_data()[1]})


The first level key of the nested dictionary returned from the get_plotting_data method contains the connection id of the state change. Make sure you specify the correct id for the components to be displayed. A table of the state change and the respective id can be found here.

Next, a FluidPropertyDiagram instance is created and the units of the diagram are specified.

diagram = FluidPropertyDiagram('NH3')
diagram.set_unit_system(T='°C', p='bar', h='kJ/kg')

Afterwards, the dictionary can be passed to the calc_individual_isoline method of the FluidPropertyDiagram object. In addition, the axis limits are set. The calc_isolines method calculates all isolines of the diagram and the draw_isolines method draws the isolines of the specified type. Finally, the results can be plotted and the diagram can be saved with the code shown below.

for key, data in result_dict.items():
        result_dict[key]['datapoints'] = diagram.calc_individual_isoline(**data)

diagram.set_limits(x_min=0, x_max=2100, y_min=1e0, y_max=2e2)

for key in result_dict.keys():
    datapoints = result_dict[key]['datapoints']
    diagram.ax.plot(datapoints['h'],datapoints['p'], color='#ff0000')
    diagram.ax.scatter(datapoints['h'][0],datapoints['p'][0], color='#ff0000')

Fluid Property Diagram h-log(p) of the GCHP

Figure: h-log(p) diagram of the NH3 GCHP.

The resulting fluid property diagram is shown in the figure above. It can easily be seen, that the evaporator slightly overheats the working fluid, while it leaves the condenser in saturated liquid state. The working fluid temperature after leaving the compressor is quite high with far more than 100 °C given the heat sink only requires a temperature of only 40 °C. In comparison, the R410A leaves the compressor at about 75 °C.

More examples of creating fluid property diagrams can be found in the fluprodia documentation referenced above.

Exergy analysis

Following, the main tasks of this tutorial are presented. First, the exergy analysis is set up for the respective network and carried out for the base case. Subsequently, the influence of different parameters such as temperature of the heat source and sink as well as ambient temperature and part load operation of the heat pump regarding exergetic efficiency are investigated.

Analysis setup

After the network has been built, the exergy analysis can be set up. For this purpose, all exergy flows entering and leaving the network must be defined. The exergy flows are defined as a list of busses as follows:

  • fuel exergy E_F

  • product exergy E_P

  • exergy loss streams E_L

  • internal exergy streams not bound to connections internal_busses

First, the busses for the exergy analysis must be defined. The first bus is for the electrical energy supply of the compressor and the pumps. The motor efficiency is calculated by a characteristic line. This power input bus represents fuel exergy.

The product exergy is the heat supply of the condenser to the heating system, which is represented by the heating system bus. The bus consists of the streams hs_ret and hs_feed. Note that the base keyword of the stream entering the network hs_ret must be set to bus.

Lastly, the geothermal heat bus represents the heat that is transferred from the geothermal heat collector to the evaporator. The bus consists of the streams gh_in and gh_out. Here, the base of the stream gh_in is set to bus, because this stream represents an energy input from outside of the network. In this example, the geothermal heat bus is defined as fuel exergy, because the ambient temperature Tamb is set at a lower temperature than the temperature of the geothermal heat collector.

x = np.array([0, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, 1, 1.2])
y = np.array([0, 0.86, 0.9, 0.93, 0.95, 0.96, 0.95])

char = CharLine(x=x, y=y)
power = Bus('power input')
power.add_comps({'comp': cp, 'char': char, 'base': 'bus'},
                {'comp': ghp, 'char': char, 'base': 'bus'},
                {'comp': hsp, 'char': char, 'base': 'bus'})

heat_cons = Bus('heating system')
heat_cons.add_comps({'comp': hs_ret, 'base': 'bus'}, {'comp': hs_feed})

heat_geo = Bus('geothermal heat')
heat_geo.add_comps({'comp': gh_in, 'base': 'bus'},
                   {'comp': gh_out})

nw.add_busses(power, heat_cons, heat_geo)

In order to carry out the exergy analysis an ExergyAnalysis instance passing the network to analyse as well as the respective busses is created. The product exergy is represented by the bus power. The busses heat_cons and heat_geo are passed as fuel exergy. In the example of the GCHP, only E_F and E_P are defined. Other examples of exergy analysis setup can be found in the TESPy analysis page and in the API documentation of class tespy.tools.analyses.ExergyAnalysis.

ean = ExergyAnalysis(network=nw,
                     E_F=[power, heat_geo],

ean.analyse(pamb, Tamb)

The tespy.tools.analyses.ExergyAnalysis.analyse() method will run the exergy analysis automatically. This method expects information about the ambient pressure and ambient temperature. Additionally, an automatic check of consistency is performed by the analysis as further described in TESPy analysis.


The results can be printed by using the tespy.tools.analyses.ExergyAnalysis.print_results() method.


Further descriptions of which tables are printed and how to select what is printed can be found in the TESPy analysis section. There you can also find more detailed descriptions of how to access the underlying data for the tabular printouts, which are stored in pandas DataFrames.

With the plotly library installed, the results can also be displayed in a sankey diagram. The tespy.tools.analyses.ExergyAnalysis.generate_plotly_sankey_input() method returns a dictionary containing links and nodes for the sankey diagram.

links, nodes = ean.generate_plotly_sankey_input()
 fig = go.Figure(go.Sankey(
         "label": nodes,
         'pad': 11,
         'color': 'orange'},
 plot(fig, filename='NH3_sankey')
Sankey diagram of the Ground-Coupled Heat Pump (GCHP)

Figure: Sankey diagram of the GCHP (open in new tab to enlarge).

In the figure above you can see the sankey diagram which is created by running the script of the GCHP with NH3 as refrigerant. Information about, for example, the colors used or the node order can be found in the TESPy analysis section.


Below, different possibilities of post-processing and visualization of the exergy analysis results will be presented. The following issues will be considered:

  • plot exergy destruction

  • varying ambient and geothermal temperature

  • varying geothermal and heating system temperature

  • varying heating load and geothermal temperature

In order to be able to compare the results of the two refrigerants NH3 and R410A, plots of the results of the mentioned issues are created in a separate plot script plots.py. The plots in this tutorial are created with Matplotlib. For installation instructions or further documentation please see the Matplotlib documentation.

For the post-processing, the following additional packages are required:

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

Plot exergy destruction

In order to visualize how much exergy of the fuel exergy E_F the individual components of the GCHP destroy, the exergy destruction E_D can be displayed in a bar chart as shown at the end of this section.

To create this diagram, the required data for the diagram must first be handled. As shown below, the three lists comps, E_D and E_P are created and first filled with the values for the top bar. A loop is then used to add all component labels to the list comps that destroy a noticeable amount of exergy (> 1W). The list E_D contains the corresponding values of the destroyed exergy. List E_P, in turn, contains the value of the exergy that remains after subtracting the destroyed exergy from the fuel exergy.

comps = ['E_F']
E_F = ean.network_data.E_F
E_D = [0]
E_P = [E_F]
for comp in ean.component_data.index:
    # only plot components with exergy destruction > 1 W
    if ean.component_data.E_D[comp] > 1 :
        E_F = E_F-ean.component_data.E_D[comp]

With regard to the bar chart to be created, the filled lists are then saved in a panda DataFrame and exported to a .csv file. Exporting the data is necessary in order to be able to use the results of the two scripts of the different refrigerants NH3 and R410A in a separate script.

df_comps = pd.DataFrame(columns= comps)
df_comps.loc["E_D"] = E_D
df_comps.loc["E_P"] = E_P


In order to be able to use the data from the data frames in a separate script for plot creation, all data frames must be saved as a file with their own individual name.

In the separate plot script (plots.py) the .csv files can now be re-imported to create plots with Matplotlib. The Python code for creating the bar chart is included in the previously referenced plot script and can be found there. For more information on creating plots with Matplotlib, please check the Matplotlib documentation. The resulting bar chart is shown below.

Comparison of exergy destruction and exergy efficiency

Figure: Comparison of exergy destruction and exergy efficiency of both working fluids in design case.

Comparison of exergy destruction and exergy efficiency

Figure: Comparison of exergy destruction and exergy efficiency of both working fluids in design case.

The bar chart shows how much exergy the individual components of the GCHP destroy in absolute terms and as a percentage of the fuel exergy E_F. After deducting the destroyed exergy E_D, the product exergy E_P remains. Overall, it is noticeable that the GCHP with NH3 requires less fuel exergy than the GCHP with R410A, with the same amount of product exergy. Furthermore, with NH3 the condenser has the highest exergy destruction, whereas with R410A the valve destroys the largest amount of exergy.

Varying ambient and geothermal temperature

In order to consider the influence of a change in ambient temperature or geothermal temperature on the exergetic efficiency, offdesign calculations are performed with different values of these parameters. The first step is to create dataframes as shown below. The ambient temperature Tamb is varied between 1°C and 20°C. The mean geothermal temperature Tgeo is varied between 11.5°C and 6.5°C. Note that the geothermal temperature Tgeo is given as a mean value of the feed an return flow temperatures, as described in the beginning of this tutorial.

Tamb_design = Tamb
Tgeo_design = Tgeo
i = 0

# create data ranges and frames
Tamb_range = np.array([1,4,8,12,16,20])
Tgeo_range = np.array([11.5, 10.5, 9.5, 8.5, 7.5, 6.5])
df_eps_Tamb = pd.DataFrame(columns= Tamb_range)
df_eps_Tgeo = pd.DataFrame(columns= Tgeo_range)

Next, the exergetic efficiency epsilon can be calculated for the different values of Tamb in Tamb_range by calling the tespy.tools.analyses.ExergyAnalysis.analyse() method in a loop. The results are saved in the created dataframe and exported to a .csv file.

# calculate epsilon depending on Tamb
eps_Tamb = []
print("Varying ambient temperature:\n")
for Tamb in Tamb_range:
    i += 1
    ean.analyse(pamb, Tamb)
    print("Case %d: Tamb = %.1f °C"%(i,Tamb))

# save to data frame
df_eps_Tamb.loc[Tgeo_design] = eps_Tamb


If only the ambient state (temperature or pressure) changes, there is no need to create a new ExergyAnalysis instance. Instead, you can simply call the tespy.tools.analyses.ExergyAnalysis.analyse() method with the new ambient state. A new instance only needs to be created when there are changes in the topology of the network.

The following calculation of the network with different geothermal mean temperatures is carried out as an offdesign calculation. Again, no new ExergyAnalysis instance needs to be created. The ambient temperature Tamb is reset to the design value.

# calculate epsilon depending on Tgeo
eps_Tgeo = []
print("\nVarying mean geothermal temperature:\n")
for Tgeo in Tgeo_range:
    i += 1
    # set feed and return flow temperatures around mean value Tgeo
    nw.solve('offdesign', init_path=path, design_path=path)
    ean.analyse(pamb, Tamb_design)
    print("Case %d: Tgeo = %.1f °C"%(i,Tgeo))

# save to data frame
df_eps_Tgeo.loc[Tamb_design] = eps_Tgeo

The results of the calculation can be plotted as shown in the following figure. The related Python code to create this plot can be found in the plot script (plots.py). For further documentation please see the Matplotlib documentation.

Varying Tamb and Tgeo of the GCHP

Figure: Varying ambient and geothermal temperature.

Varying Tamb and Tgeo of the GCHP

Figure: Varying ambient and geothermal temperature.

It can be recognized that the specified ambient temperature Tamb used in the analyse method of the ExergyAnalysis instance has a considerable influence on the exergetic efficiency epsilon. The closer the ambient temperature is to the temperature of the heating system, the lower the exergetic efficiency. This can be argued from the fact that while E_F and E_P both decrease with increasing Tamb, E_P decreases proportionally more than E_F. In comparison, it can be seen on the right that with increasing Tgeo, and thus decreasing temperature difference between geothermal heat collector and heating system, epsilon increases. This can be explained by the resulting decrease in E_F with E_P remaining constant.

Varying geothermal and heating system temperature

Another relation that can be investigated is the influence of a change in the geothermal and the heating system temperatures on the exergetic efficiency and the COP of the GCHP. Again, the first step is to create data frames. In this calculation Tgeo is varied between 10.5°C and 6.5°C. The heating system temperature Ths is varied between 42.5°C and 32.5°C. As before, all temperature values are mean values of the feed and return flow temperatures.

# create data ranges and frames
Tgeo_range = [10.5, 8.5, 6.5]
Ths_range = [42.5, 37.5, 32.5]
df_eps_Tgeo_Ths = pd.DataFrame(columns= Ths_range)
df_cop_Tgeo_Ths = pd.DataFrame(columns= Ths_range)

The values of Tgeo and Ths are varied simultaneously within the specified range and again the exergetic efficiency is calculated. In addition, the COP is calculated for each parameter combination. The data is stored in two dataframes with the range of Tgeo as rows and the range of Ths as columns.

# calculate epsilon and COP
print("\nVarying mean geothermal temperature and "+
      "heating system temperature:\n")
for Tgeo in Tgeo_range:
    # set feed and return flow temperatures around mean value Tgeo
    epsilon = []
    cop = []
    for Ths in Ths_range:
        i += 1
        if Ths == Ths_range[0]:
            nw.solve('offdesign', init_path=path, design_path=path)
            nw.solve('offdesign', design_path=path)
        ean.analyse(pamb, Tamb_design)
        cop += [abs(cd.Q.val) / (cp.P.val + ghp.P.val + hsp.P.val)]
        print("Case %d: Tgeo = %.1f °C, Ths = %.1f °C"%(i,Tgeo,Ths))

    # save to data frame
    df_eps_Tgeo_Ths.loc[Tgeo] = epsilon
    df_cop_Tgeo_Ths.loc[Tgeo] = cop


The results of this calculation are shown in the following figure. The corresponding Python code can likewise be found in the plot script (plots.py).

Varying Tgeo and Ths of the GCHP

Figure: Varying geothermal and heating system temperature.

Varying Tgeo and Ths of the GCHP

Figure: Varying geothermal and heating system temperature.

It can be seen that the GCHP with NH3 has a better exergetic efficiency than with R410A. As in the prior investigation, an increasing geothermal heat collector temperature also has a favorable effect on epsilon. The opposite behavior of epsilon and COP for both refrigerants is remarkable. The COP drops while the exergetic efficiency rises. This can be explained by the fact that at constant heating load Q, the required electrical power input increases as the heating system temperature rises. However regarding exergetic efficiency, E_F and E_P both increase with increasing heating system temperature. The ratio between these two parameters is such that the exergetic efficiency improves as the heating system temperature rises.

Varying geothermal temperature and heating load

Finally, the influence of the simultaneous variation of the geothermal temperature Tgeo and the heating load Q on the exergetic efficiency and the COP of the GCHP is examined. The investigation is carried out in the same way as the variation of Tgeo and Ths described above. In contrast to the previous investigation, Q is varied here instead of Ths. The range of Q varies between 4.3 and 2.8 kW. The rated load was previously set at 4 kW in the design calculation. Due to the similarity to the previous parameter variation, the corresponding Python code is not presented, but can be found in the scripts linked at the beginning instead.

Varying Tgeo and Q of the GCHP

Figure: Varying geothermal temperature and heat load.

Varying Tgeo and Q of the GCHP

Figure: Varying geothermal temperature and heat load.

The results are shown in the figure above. As before, the Python code for creating the plot can be found in the plot script (plots.py). The partial load behavior of the GCHP, which results from the characteristic lines of the efficiencies of the individual components, can be recognized in the curves shown.


This tutorial provides an exemplary insight into post-processing with the TESPy exergy analysis tool. Of course, other parameters can also be examined and varied. Feel free to try out different parameter variations. But make sure that the data ranges are not only adjusted in the Python script of the model, but also in the Python script of the plots, if a plot is created with the stand-alone plot script.

More examples of exergy analysis can be found in the TESPy analysis section and in the API documentation of the tespy.tools.analyses.ExergyAnalysis class. If you are interested in contributing or have questions and remarks on this tutorial, you are welcome to file an issue at our GitHub page.