Faculty Advisor

Rajib B. Mallick

Faculty Advisor

Leonard D. Albano


Urban areas contain significant amounts of asphalt pavement. When exposed to the sun, asphalt pavement absorbs solar radiation and stores it as thermal energy raising its temperature. According to the urban heat island effect (UHIE), the pavement releases the thermal energy back to the surrounding air resulting in a rise in local air temperature. A pipe network containing a passing fluid installed in the pavement can reduce the UHIE. The fluid captures the thermal energy stored in the pavement, reducing air and pavement temperatures as well as providing heated water for other applications. The heat transfer/harvesting system can be optimized to produce the desired cooling of the pavements. This research addresses the economic feasibility of a pipe network by design as well as structural performance through computer modeling. To design the pipe network and predict its economic feasibility an Excel spreadsheet was programmed. It requires local air temperature data to determine the yearly temperature profile within the pavement and to calculate the amount of thermal energy that could be extracted. By varying design parameters such as fluid flow rate, it produces a matrix of payback periods. Structural conditions were considered for the installation of the proposed system. To simultaneously evaluate the thermal and structural performance of the pipe network installation, a finite element model was created using COMSOL Multiphysics©. A typical value of solar radiation and a standard truck tire wheel load were applied to the model to simulate the intended application of the pipe network. The result of this thesis is a method and a tool to design and analyze with respect to economic and structural performance a pipe network used to extract the thermal energy stored in asphalt pavements and reduce the UHIE.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Civil & Environmental Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





harvesting energy, structural analysis, economic analysis, pipe network, heat island