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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sound wall barriers: Near roadway dispersion under neutrally stratified boundary layer

  • Author(s): Pournazeri, S
  • Princevac, M
  • et al.

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. With the passage of California Senate Bill 375, which motivates infill development near transit hubs, there is the potential to increase vehicle congestion in residential communities and increase in human exposure to toxic mobile source pollutants. Among all the mitigation strategies that protect near roadway residents from health-affecting vehicular emissions (e.g. separating sensitive receptors from high traffic roadways), this paper discusses the impact of sound wall barriers (SBs) in reducing the air pollution exposure of nearby residents. To date, there have been some studies done to understand the impact of these structures on dispersion of vehicular emissions; however, no definitive conclusion has been drawn yet. The main objective of this paper is to provide more information and details on flow and dispersion affected by barriers through a systematic laboratory simulation of plume dispersion using a water channel. Three sets of experiments were conducted: (1) plume visualizations, (2) plume concentration measurements, and (3) flow velocity measurements. Results from this study shows that the deployment of sound barriers induces a recirculating flow over the roadway which transports the surface released emissions to the upwind side of the roadway, and then shifts the plume upward through an induced updraft motion. Plume visualizations clearly demonstrate that the presence of SBs induce significant vertical mixing and updraft motion on the roadway which increases the initial plume dilution and plume height and consequently results in reduced downwind ground level concentrations. Although different SB configurations result in different localized flow patterns, the dispersion pattern does not change significantly after several SB heights downwind of the roadway.

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