Fenix Energy Makes Geo-Exchange Tech for Spaces with Low Max Headroom

Fenix Energy (Fenix) is a Vancouver-based company that provides geo-exchange systems.  Geo-exchange, also called geothermal heating and cooling, means tapping into the energy stored under the Earth’s surface and using it as a heating and cooling source.

According to this Cleantechies piece, because Fenix’s technology uses vertical drilling that minimizes disruption to existing surroundings, it can be deployed in urban environments and particularly in green buildings.

Fenix owns at least one international patent application, Publication No. WO 2012/109759 (‘759 Application), entitled “Low headroom confined space geoexchange drilling system and method.”   

The ‘759 Application is directed to a low headroom drill apparatus (100) comprising a rotary drill head motor (101) supported on a drill mast (103), which is itself supported by a drill rig base frame (112) including floor supports (106).   The drill mast (103) can be elevated by an actuator (116) to a vertical drilling position. 

An axial drive means (114), shown in FIG. 1 as a chain and sprocket hydraulic motor drive, drives movement of the motor (101) in an axial drilling stroke to advance or withdraw the drill rod string (102) through the ground below a floor slab (110) of a building.  The drill rig base frame (112) may include transport brackets (118) to facilitate movement of the drill rig apparatus (110).

The drill mast (103) is of a length less than the maximum headroom of confined space in which the drill system (100) is being used, such as 6-7 feet in a parking garage or basement or 7-9 feet in an office building.  This enables use of the system without the need for any sub-excavation below the bottom floor of the building or other measures to provide sufficient vertical clearance for the drill mast (103). 

Max Headroom

According to the ‘759 Application, the invention is particularly well suited for use in multi-story buildings with vertically oriented geo-exchange piping and in smaller areas with strict headroom limits.

The Cleantechies article also noted that Fenix recently completed a geo-exchange installation at a building in Ontario after the first three floors were in place, and because the system is so unintrusive, other work such as plumbing, electrical and glazing occurred in parallel with the drilling process.

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Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.