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An investigation of air inlet velocity in simulating the dispersion of indoor contaminants via computational fluid dynamics.

Lee E; Feigley CE; Khan J
Ann Occup Hyg 2002 Nov; 46(8):701-712
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is potentially a valuable tool for simulating the dispersion of air contaminants in workrooms. However, CFD-estimated airflow and contaminant concentration patterns have not always shown good agreement with experimental results. Thus, understanding the factors affecting the accuracy of such simulations is critical for their successful application in occupational hygiene. The purposes of this study were to validate CFD approaches for simulating the dispersion of gases and vapors in an enclosed space at two air flow rates and to demonstrate the impact of one important determinant of simulation accuracy. The concentration of a tracer gas, isobutylene, was measured at 117 points in a rectangular chamber [1 (L) x 0.3 (H) x 0.7 m (W)] using a photoionization analyzer. Chamber air flow rates were scaled using geometric and kinematic similarity criteria to represent a full-sized room at two Reynolds numbers (Re = 5 x 10(2) and 5 x 10(3)). Also, CFD simulations were conducted to estimate tracer gas concentrations throughout the chamber. The simulation results for two treatments of air inlet velocity (profiled inlet velocity measured in traverses across the air inlet and the assumption that air velocity is uniform across the inlet) were compared with experimental observations. The CFD-simulated 3-dimensional distribution of tracer gas concentration using the profiled inlet velocity showed better agreement qualitatively and quantitatively with measured chamber concentration, while the concentration estimated using the uniform inlet velocity showed poor agreement for both comparisons. For estimating room air contaminant concentrations when inlet velocities can be determined, this study suggests that using the inlet velocity distribution to define inlet boundary conditions for CFD simulations can provide more reliable estimates. When the inlet velocity distribution is not known, for instance for prospective design of dilution ventilation systems, the trials of several velocity profiles with different source, air inlet and air outlet locations may be useful for determining the most efficient workroom layout.
Fluid-mechanics; Simulation-methods; Analytical-processes; Indoor-air-pollution; Ventilation; Ventilation-hoods; Air-contamination; Air-sampling-techniques; Indoor-environmental-quality
Eungyoung Lee, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, HESC, Room 311, Norman J Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-007626; Grant-Number-T01-CCT-410439
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Annals of Occupational Hygiene
Performing Organization
University of South Carolina at Columbia, Columbia, South Carolina
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division