Capability of a Mobile Monitoring System to Provide Real-Time Data Broadcasting and Near Real-Time Source Attribution

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Matthew Erickson, Jay Olaguer, Asanga Wijesinghe, John Colvin, Brad Neish and Jeff Williams, Houston Advanced Research Center, The Woodlands, TX, United States
It is becoming increasingly important to understand the emissions and health effects of industrial facilities. Many areas have no or limited sustained monitoring capabilities, making it difficult to quantify the major pollution sources affecting human health, especially in fence line communities. Developments in real-time monitoring and micro-scale modeling offer unique ways to tackle these complex issues. This presentation will demonstrate the capability of coupling real-time observations with micro-scale modeling to provide real-time information and near real-time source attribution.

The Houston Advanced Research Center constructed the Mobile Acquisition of Real-time Concentrations (MARC) laboratory. MARC consists of a Ford E-350 passenger van outfitted with a Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS) and meteorological equipment. This allows for the fast measurement of various VOCs important to air quality. The data recorded from the van is uploaded to an off-site database and the information is broadcast to a website in real-time. This provides for off-site monitoring of MARC’s observations, which allows off-site personnel to provide immediate input to the MARC operators on how to best achieve project objectives.

The information stored in the database can also be used to provide near real-time source attribution. An inverse model has been used to ascertain the amount, location, and timing of emissions based on MARC measurements in the vicinity of industrial sites. The inverse model is based on a 3D micro-scale Eulerian forward and adjoint air quality model known as the HARC model. The HARC model uses output from the Quick Urban and Industrial Complex (QUIC) wind model and requires a 3D digital model of the monitored facility based on lidar or industrial permit data.

MARC is one of the instrument platforms deployed during the 2014 Benzene and other Toxics Exposure Study (BEE-TEX) in Houston, TX. The main goal of the study is to quantify and explain the origin of ambient exposure to hazardous air pollutants in an industrial fence line community near the Houston Ship Channel. Preliminary results derived from analysis of MARC observations during the BEE-TEX experiment will be presented.