Based on four-thermal-resistance-capacitance network within a borehole, an improved thermal-resistance-capacitance model (TRCM), which takes into account the effect of nonuniform temperature distribution along the borehole perimeter, is proposed for vertical single U-tube ground heat exchanger. For a given geometric and physical parameters of ground heat exchanger, the numerical simulations of the conventional TRCM based on three-thermal-resistance-capacitance network within borehole, the improved TRCM based on four-thermal-resistance-capacitance network within borehole and three-dimensional (3D) finite volume computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model by using fluent software were conducted, respectively. Through the comprehensive comparisons of simulation results between these above-mentioned three models for vertical single U-tube ground heat exchanger, it could be concluded that the proposed improved TRCM could not only provide relatively high accurate results, but also remarkably decrease the solving time as compared to the benchmark 3D finite volume CFD model. Since the proposed TRCM has better performance than the one based on three-thermal-resistance-capacitance network within borehole and 3D finite volume CFD model, a new reliable and feasible TRCM for vertical single U-tube ground heat exchanger could be available for the design and optimization of ground heat exchanger, the data interpretation of thermal response test (TRT) and other applications of ground heat exchanger in real industrial engineering.

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