Cornell Research to Help Reduce Energy Consumption at Cell Sites

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USA based Verizon Wireless says that it is working with Cornell University's Energy Institute and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future to study the promise of geothermal heat pumps for cooling applications at cell sites.

Equipment shelters at cell sites generate large amounts of heat and require constant cooling to ensure optimal performance of network equipment. This is typically accomplished with energy-intensive air conditioning units.

Geothermal cooling uses pumps to transfer heat from the building into cool underground wells, using much less energy than a traditional air conditioner that transfers the heat to the outside air. Geothermal systems are also highly reliable with long life expectancy and require minimal maintenance, further reducing operational costs.

Verizon Wireless built a new cell site on the Cornell campus with a geothermal system that will replace an existing traditional cell site air conditioning system. The system is designed and constructed with multiple well configurations and features so researchers can test which one is the most efficient. While there have been other cell sites built with geothermal cooling, this one is designed for detailed long-term analysis of temperatures, energy usage and environmental measures. The researchers will also test another way to save energy by using airside economizers that draw in outside air to cool the cell site equipment during Ithaca, N.Y.'s long cold season.

The project is an outgrowth of a 2010 Verizon Foundation initiative that supported Cornell engineering student projects on energy-saving solutions.

"The geothermal cell site study seeks to improve energy efficiency of cell sites while helping to advance the use of geothermal systems for cooling applications in general, with benefits that go beyond the wireless industry," said Cornell's Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems, Jefferson Tester.

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