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Heat and Cool a Dome Naturally

 
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Location: Skandia, MI
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I live in Zone 3-5ish where it snows a bunch in the winter and has 100 degree days in the summer. I built a 29' diameter Geodesic Dome that will soon be 3-4' deep in the earth. Now I am thinking I can have ice stored (In a rubber pond liner with a roof and insulation to keep frozen throughout the summer) above the dome elevation to cool in the summer ( Maybe using a subterranean heating and cooling type setup, with 55 gal blue plastic barrel on top of the ice with the piping going from the barrel to the dome where there would be another barrel, a fan would move the cold air?). Also, I am hoping to heat with a rocket mass heater and a makeshift geothermal type heating, with the ground. Would this work as I have it drawn out? (Scale is inaccurate as of now) Thanks!
domeheatcool.jpg
[Thumbnail for domeheatcool.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Not sure how you are planning to store the ice, or move the colder temp into the dome, but I don't think you would need to bother with it.  I would just use earth tubes like the ones you show going downhill.  If you keep that angle and open windows near the top of the dome, the 45-55 degree cool air will be pulled thru passively on warm days.

I would like to see the dome if you have pictures, in particular the material you used to cover the triangles, and how you sealed it to prevent leaks.
 
Scott Lawrence
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Todd Parr wrote:Not sure how you are planning to store the ice, or move the colder temp into the dome, but I don't think you would need to bother with it.  I would just use earth tubes like the ones you show going downhill.  If you keep that angle and open windows near the top of the dome, the 45-55 degree cool air will be pulled thru passively on warm days.

I would like to see the dome if you have pictures, in particular the material you used to cover the triangles, and how you sealed it to prevent leaks.



Thanks ,Todd! ( I am new to Permies and not sure I am responding in the correct fashion) I responded to your ice storage question with a simple edit (on pond liner with a roof and insulation) I wasn't sure if convection would draw down the cold air naturally or not. I am not well educated on physics and thermodynamics... yet. There are pictures of the dome at www.sacredacres.info or follow sacred acres on instagram/facebook. As of now, the triangles are covered with a thick fire/tear/water proof vinyl and sealed with caulk and rubber paint. This summer I will be using wood, plastic, and earth as the new cover.
 
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Bumping this thread because I'm attempting to try something like the deep pipe in the ground for convection air circulating: thermosyphon. Does anyone have any recommended reads for the concepts at work here? Would Scott's ideas have worked? Anyone have a good source for experimenting with thermodynamics?
 
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Amy Gardener wrote:Bumping this thread because I'm attempting to try something like the deep pipe in the ground for convection air circulating: thermosyphon. Does anyone have any recommended reads for the concepts at work here? Would Scott's ideas have worked? Anyone have a good source for experimenting with thermodynamics?



Hi Amy, have you looked into Michael Reynolds Earthship designs by chance? The Earthships his team builds in Taos, NM utilize fresh air intake cooling tubes of 10 inches ID, in the range of 20 feet in length, buried approx 8-feet deep.  There's a diagram (drawing) on their website here: https://earthshipbiotecture.com/design-principles

The "cooling tubes" slant downhill away from the living space, to drain any condensate to the outdoors. From what I've read about the latest Earthship designs (Encounter & Global models) the indoor temperature stays 70° F all year round without supplemental heating or cooling.
 
Amy Gardener
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Great idea Byron! I've watched the documentaries but never looked at the website. Looks like I'll be heading up to Taos for a stay. Thanks for writing.
 
Byron Campbell
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Your most welcome. If Taos wasn't a 1000 mile drive, I'd show up for a tour of the Encounter model Earthship on the hottest day of the hottest month, armed with a pocket thermometer:o) I've heard summer temps get into the 90s' there just outside of Taos at the Greater-World Earthship community, high desert at 7000 feet. And that makes for a 20° or better temp. diff. with the Earthship staying close to 70° F in the living room.  

The Encounter is the basic but still does it all design, the affordable Chevy Nova of Earthships. Here's a neat video tour with some elaboration on the cooling tube system:  


Another good video worth watching is the tour given by Tom Duke, including his own early model Earthship he and his family have lived in for close to two decades now:  


There are lots of attractive interesting energy saving concepts of the Earthship design, I've been studying to eventually incorporate into my home.
 
Byron Campbell
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Here's the video I was looking for, showing the rear (around back of the Encounter Earthship) view of the cooling tubes air entry areas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVD7jhi-99w
 
Amy Gardener
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The Earthships take advantage of the earth's mass being banked up horizontally, at ground level. Dirt is heaped up. The convection occurs through the pipes above ground level that are covered with dirt. Really good ideas when you are building from scratch and can take a bull dozer and build a large mound of earth that air can pass through.
Where I live, the temperature is a consistent 61.5 degrees F straight down into the ground at 12'. Temperatures above ground go from the teens in winter to over 100 in summer. Scott's diagram shows a 12' long pipe reaching mostly down. How do we get that consistent 61.5 degree temp to go up into the living space (vertical airflow) instead of across (horizontal airflow)? The early inhabitants of this area built pit houses and subterranean buildings. Did they know something that we've forgotten?
 
Byron Campbell
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There are other ways to "drive" the cooling tubes effect besides that really nice glass front built-in greenhouse:o) As far as the cooling tubes being sloped at a more aggressive angle, I have no idea if that is of concern or not. Only that cooling tubes that are sized in the range of 20 to 40 feet in length are commonly made to 10 inches in diameter (according the Earthship plans / drawings).

To cool a dome structure, the way Earthship Biotecture does it, is via an opening in the center of the top of the dome, and a short but large diameter pipe (chimney of sorts) fitted at that point and extending above the roof-line. Hot air inside the living space rises and flows out of the ceiling opening through that section of pipe. The sun heats up the pipe's rooftop located convection umbrella, raising the air temperature at that location, thus further driving the thermosyphon effect, and obviously pulling fresh cool air into living space from the buried cooling tubes.

Phil talks about this type of system at around 17 minutes (cooling tubes) and 30 minutes (convection umbrella) into this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKBDCcbSt-M
 
Amy Gardener
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This info is really helpful for summer airflow, Byron. With some strategic burrowing, ground level cooling tubes are possible in my situation and I will explore this more for summer cooling. In addition, I am especially intrigued by the convection umbrella. Currently, I have a skylight at the central peak of the dome. In summer, I could cover the skylight with black landscape fabric and put the domed skylight on a table-legged frame that will enable ventilation and draw the air from the cooling tubes and the ambient heat upward and out the roof. You really got me thinking and I thank you for these excellent ideas for cooling the space, Byron.

Now, what about the winter chill? Any ideas to passively move warm air into the living space, either from the sunny topside or the below-ground warmth?
 
Byron Campbell
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Sorry, I'm of no help there as far a moving heat passively. Everything is on one floor level here, with a more or less centrally located, along one wall, RMH (6" batch-box + thermal mass bench) in 680 sq. ft. of open floor space, standard 8 ft. ceiling, in a small stick-frame house. Still grid-tied and using electric fans, to spread the warmth to the furthest back rooms. Would like to build an Earthship one day, but no dirt packed tires (steel reinforced MCUs instead, since I am a traditional builder at heart).

 
pollinator
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Amy Gardener wrote:Bumping this thread because I'm attempting to try something like the deep pipe in the ground for convection air circulating: thermosyphon. Does anyone have any recommended reads for the concepts at work here? Would Scott's ideas have worked? Anyone have a good source for experimenting with thermodynamics?


Maybe John Hait’s book on Passive Annual Heat Storage? There’s also threads about it. Exactly this method for circulation.
 
Byron Campbell
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Correction on the 20 to 40 foot length cooling tubes. In the current production Earthships the pipe diameter for the cooling tubes is typically in the range or 15" to 16" in diameter.
 
Oh, sure, you could do that. Or you could eat some pie. While reading this tiny ad:
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