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Gaussian Plume Model

Mihir Patel(09BCE041) Sagar Patel(09BCE046)

Stacks in Industry
Emissions from industrial stacks are regulated to protect human and environmental health Industrial facilities are required to obtain permits to emit into the atmosphere and to demonstrate their compliance with regulations In the process of applying for permits, dispersion models are generally used to assess the impact of point source emission

Gaussian Plume Model

The Gaussian plume model is a (relatively) simple mathematical model that is typically applied to point source emitters, such as coal-burning electricity-producing plants.

Occassionally, this model will be applied to non-point source emitters, such as exhaust from automobiles in an urban area.
One of the key assumptions of this model is that over short periods of time (such as a few hours) steady state conditions exists with regard to air pollutant emissions and meteorological changes.

Air pollution is represented by an idealized plume coming from the top of a stack of some height and diameter

One of the primary calculations is the effective stack height. As the gases are heated in the plant (from the burning of coal or other materials), the hot plume will be thrust upward some distance above the top of the stack -- the effective stack height.
We need to be able to calculate this vertical displacement, which depends on the stack gas exit velocity and temperature, and the temperature of the surrounding air.

Once the plume has reached its effective stack height, dispersion will begin in three dimensions.

Dispersion in the downwind direction is a function of the mean wind speed blowing across the plume.
Dispersion in the cross-wind direction and in the vertical direction will be governed by the Gaussian plume equations of lateral dispersion.

Lateral dispersion depends on a value known as the atmospheric condition, which is a measure of the relative stability of the surrounding air

C(x,y,z) is the concentration of the emission (in micrograms per cubic meter) at any point x meters downwind of the source, y meters laterally from the centerline of the plume, and z meters above ground level. Q is the quantity or mass of the emission (in grams) per unit of time (seconds) u is the wind speed (in meters per second) H is the height of the source above ground level (in meters) and are the standard deviations of a statistically normal plume in the lateral and vertical dimensions, respectively

Common features of Gaussian-plume models

do not require significant computer resources - they can be run on almost any desktop PC and can usually process a complete year of meteorological data in a matter of minutes are easy to use - they come with user-friendly graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and a relatively small number of input variables are required are widely used - well developed knowledge due to many users and results can easily be compared between different studies have simple meteorological data requirements - an input data set can be developed from standard meteorological recordings and commercially developed data sets are readily available for a number of the metropolitan areas of New Zealand

have conservative results for short (<100 m) or low-level sources overseas validation shows these models are more likely to over- rather than under-predict ground-level concentrations, which offers some degree of safety in the regulatory environment when assessing discharges from short or low-level sources.

Modelling results can also be used for

assessing compliance of emissions with air quality guidelines, criteria and standards planning new facilities determining appropriate stack heights managing existing emissions designing ambient air monitoring networks identifying the main contributors to existing air pollution problems evaluating policy and mitigation strategies (e.g. the effect of emission standards) forecasting pollution episodes

assessing the risks of and planning for the management of rare events such as accidental hazardous substance releases estimating the influence of geophysical factors on dispersion (e.g. terrain elevation, presence of water bodies and land use) running 'numerical laboratories' for scientific research involving experiments that would otherwise be too costly in the real world (e.g. tracking accidental hazardous substance releases, including foot-and-mouth disease) saving cost and time over monitoring - modelling costs are a fraction of monitoring costs and a simulation of annual or multi-year periods may only take a few weeks to assess.

Gaussian-plume models are generally applicable when

the pollutants are chemically inert, a simple first-order mechanism is appropriate, or the chemistry may be carried out as a post-processing step the terrain is not steep or complex the meteorology may be considered uniform spatially there are few periods of calm or light winds. In medium-complex atmospheric and topographical conditions with relatively simple effects, Gaussian-plume models can produce reliable results.

Limitations :
Plume models are usually only applicable to near-field (within 10 km from the source) calculations. It not wise to assume the meteorology will be the same greater than 10 km away as at the source. Gaussian-plume models are unlikely to accurately model stagnation events. The plume models treat SOx and NOx chemistry as a simple exponential decay, but do not attempt to address the detailed mechanisms of atmospheric chemistry. Most plume models are unable to model inversion-break-up fumigation(covering-coating) events.

In more complex atmospheric and topographical conditions, advanced puff or particle models and meteorological modelling may be required to maintain a similar degree of accuracy. In choosing the most appropriate model it is very important to understand the model's limitations and apply it only to the situations that match its capabilities. The choice of an appropriate dispersion model is heavily dependent on the intended application.