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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Influence of indoor transport and mixing time scales on the performance of sensor systems for characterizing contaminant releases

  • Author(s): Sreedharan, Piya
  • Sohn, Michael D.
  • Nazaroff, William W.
  • Gadgil, Ashok J.
  • et al.

Optimizing real-time sensor systems to detect and identify relevant characteristics of an indoor contaminant event is a challenging task. The interpretation of incoming sensor data is confounded by uncertainties in building operation, in the forces driving contaminant transport, and even in the physical parameters governing the transport. In addition, any simulation tools used by the sensor interpretation algorithm will introduce modeling uncertainties. This paper explores how the time scales inherent in contaminant transport influence the information that can be extracted from real-time sensor data. In particular, we identify three time scales (within room mixing, room-to-room transport, and removal from the building) and study how they affect the ability of a Bayesian Monte Carlo (BMC) sensor interpretation algorithm to identify the release location and release mass from a set of experimental data, recorded in a multi-floor building. The research shows that some limitations in the BMC approach do not depend on details of the models or the algorithmic implementation, but rather on the physics of contaminant transport. This in turn has implications for the design of sensor systems.

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