5 April 2010. The Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’s Facultad de Informática has developed a computer system that can robustly and efficiently control and forecast air pollution.
The computer system is capable of making real-time air quality forecasts and analysing the impact of static and dynamic emission sources in runtime mode. This way, it can help the environmental authorities to reduce air quality problems.
The air quality of a particular region is defined by the geographical distribution of the emission sources, the amounts of emitted pollutants, the physical and chemical processes taking place in the atmosphere, and regional climate and relief. These factors condition the processes of dispersion and transportation.
The system developed at the UPM’s Facultad de Informática includes complex atmospheric models, perfectly fitted to the complexity and non-linearity of the processes taking place in a totally dynamic atmosphere.
The tool has already been used in a number of real applications by Madrid’s City Council and Regional Government, the Principality of Asturias, Bilbao City Council, Leicester City Council (UK), the Andalusian Regional Government, the Canary Islands’ Regional Government and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria City Council.
The above authorities applied the system in forecasting mode, where it makes daily 72-hour air pollution forecasts in runtime mode, displaying the information over the Internet.
The system has also been used in historic mode to forecast the impact of industrial sources on air quality with the aim of identifying air pollution problems potentially caused by pollutant sources. The system has been applied in this mode in the region of Andalusia to run a preliminary study of the impact of several industrial sources. Again it was used in Palos de la Frontera (Huelva) to assess the impact of five electricity generating plants. In Morata de Tajuña (Madrid), the system was applied to examine the impact of a combined cycle power plant, whereas it was used in Txingudi (Irun) and San Sebastian to analyse the impact of two incinerators to be located at these two sites.
Finally, the system has been applied in real-time mode. This is the most complex mode in which the system exploits all its capabilities. In real-time mode, the system forecasts air pollution for a 72-hour period. If it detects pollution alerts, the system activates the historic mode to ascertain the potential impact of each of the modelled sources and suggests which sources should reduce emissions and by how much (in percentage terms).
The system has been applied in real-time mode as part of the Eureka TEAP (A Tool to Evaluate the Air Quality Impact of Industrial Plants) project and the ACECA study on FENOSA_IBERDROLA energy plants under development.
In all cases where the system was applied, the validation module confirmed the reliability of the final results, thereby endorsing this tool as suitable for atmospheric modelling.
The developed system is part of Juan Luis Pérez Camaño’s PhD thesis, defended in 2004 and published recently. The PhD thesis was supervised by Prof. Roberto San José, Director of the Facultad de Informática’s Environmental Software and Modelling Group (GMSMA).
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