Balancing Act: Pollution Controls Versus Energy Demand

Environmental researchers use the IMSL Libraries to create mathematical models to measure and analyze various climatic and meteorological data daily. Using the Libraries they are able to decide the optimal conditions at the power plant for the least level of ground-concentration pollution.

The random number generator routines are the core of this model

and the IMSL Libraries are very fast and very accurate. We've had good results comparing simulations with real systems, enabling us to use the model in real-time.

Create Mathematical Models

Regularly, environmental researchers at a European research center send weather information to the electricity board. Using the IMSL Numerical Libraries to create mathematical models, the research group measures and analyzes various climatic and meteorological data daily to forecast the quantities and dispersion abilities of pollutants in the air.

The electricity board can then determine what action to take. For example, if the air is very still and an inversion is forecast, the board could opt to shut off the low chimneys at the power plant and use only the tall stacks to vent smoke. If cold weather is forecast, the electricity board knows that demands for energy will be greater and can act accordingly.

Scientists take two approaches to the forecast. One group studies the dispersion qualities of pollutants. The other analyzes the impact of weather conditions on the demand for electricity.

Air Pollution Modeling

Seventy percent of the country's energy is produced at fossil-fuel power plants. Burning coal and oil emit noxious fumes including sulfur and nitrogen oxides and aerosol. The ground concentration of these pollutants has to be controlled around the power plants. The emissions are a major environmental concern, and these researchers are involved in research that will minimize ground-level pollution.

The lab turned to the IMSL Numerical Libraries subroutines for air pollution modeling that simulates atmospheric dispersion and predicts ground-level concentrations.

The knowledge of the dynamic and thermodynamic fields affecting the planetary boundary layer is one of the most important aspects in studies of environmental problems and atmospheric pollution over urban and industrial areas. Several years ago, I was developing numerical code for simulating the atmospheric circulation of local flow and needed to integrate a system of differential equations. That was the first time that I used the IMSL subroutines.

Using special functions of the IMSL Numerical Libraries, the group simulates an analytical solution. They developed an advanced particle model that simulates turbulent diffusion phenomena in the atmosphere by means of a Lagrangian particle semi-random motion.

By using suitable Monte Carlo numerical techniques, particles released by a source are scattered in the computing domain, simulating transport, diffusion, chemical reaction, and ground deposition mechanisms. "The random number generator routines are the core of this model, and the IMSL Libraries are very fast and very accurate," said the Research Scientist.

We've had good results comparing simulations with real systems, enabling us to use the model in real-time. The digital system receives and codes data from measurement instruments such as Doppler Sonar, acoustic antennae that produce a vertical profile of the air temperature. Then particle models are created using the remote sensor data and IMSL's Monte Carlo simulation subroutines.

Because the energy utility is particularly vulnerable to meteorological conditions, the electricity board requires accurate weather reports to prepare for unusual demands on resources or a possible lack of resources. For example, 15 percent of the board's energy is produced by hydraulic power stations, making timely precipitation forecasts a necessity for predicting load demands.

Forecasting Weather Conditions

Another group at the lab prepares weather charts with data received every day from the center. Using the IMSL Libraries for the statistical processing of four levels of atmosphere, humidity, temperature, wind, and precipitation, the group forecasts weather conditions for the electricity board.

The lab began a cooperative project with local universities to run a three-dimensional model focusing on limited-area scale features. "The aim is to have more knowledge of the meteorological fields, such as surface temperature, wind field, and precipitation, with a higher resolution than the statistics given by the center," said the Research Scientist.

Return On Investment

The research group did a study on the Chernobyl accident, forecasting the medium- and long-range transport of radiation, to predict when the fallout would reach European countries. Using a system that had already been established to calculate the long-range trajectories of acid deposition, they analyzed the meteorological factors that characterized the transport and dispersion of the radionuclides over northern Italy from the Chernobyl nuclear power station.

The aim of our study was to test some computation procedures and specific meteorological analyses for a comprehensive study of long-range pollution transport problems. By reconstructing the particle trajectories of the radioactive Chernobyl plume, we determined the most probable starting and arrival dates of the plume and the level over the source. Analysis of the meteorological configuration up- and downwind of the Alps permitted us to explain the temporal displacement between different kinds of measured fallout.

The research group has worked on projects that measure visibility, solar radiation, and acid rain. The acid rain project, detecting acidity of rain and its effect on lakes, forests, and monuments, analyzed the composition of chemicals in the rain.

Enhance Your Research

Try the IMSL Libraries in your application. Request a free trial today.

Try Free