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DISPERSION from a point source

Chapter-6 in de Nevers
Chapter-3 in Godish
Chapter 5 in Environmental Engineers Hndbk
Sait C. Sofuoglu, PhD
Dept of Chemical Engineering
Izmir Institute of Technology
Dispersion from a point source
A visible plume usually forms as pollutants are being
emitted from a smoke-stack into the atmosphere. The
subsequent history of this plume will depend on the
interplay of a number of factors:
the physical and chemical nature of the pollutants
meteorological parameters occurring at a period of time
the location of the source relative to obstructions
downwind topography
Nature of Pollutants
Plumes are a mixture of both gases and particulate matter.
Large particles have appreciable settling velocities and
settle near the source. Smaller particles tend to remain
suspended in the atmosphere for longer periods of time and
their dispersion behavior may be similar to that of gases.
The gaseous nature of the plume would, given sufficient
time, allow for its dispersion by simple diffusion, whereby
gaseous molecules randomly move from an area of high
to an area of low concentration. Although diffusion is
an important parameter in the dispersion of a plume, it
cannot by itself account for the dispersion observed.
The fate of the plume
We will discuss the fate of
the plume as a two-part
dispersion process:
(1) the rise of the plume
from the source
(2) downwind transport and
Figure 3.10 from Air Quality by Godish
Plume Rise
Initial plume rise is important, as the height of the plume will
determine subsequent pollutant concentrations measured near
the ground.
The larger the rise, the greater the downwind distance it will be
carried before it reaches the ground. As a consequence,
ground level concentrations will be reduced.
The height of the rise will depend on
the temperature of the emissions,
the cross-sectional area of the stack,
the emission velocity,
the horizontal wind speed, and
the vertical temperature gradient.
Plume Rise
For a given set of these
conditions the plume will
rise to some height (h).
The height of the stack
plus the plume rise (h)
is called effective stack
Figure 3.10 from Air Quality by Godish
Plume Rise
The higher the effective stack height, the greater the
dispersion will be.
Effective stack height can be increased by building taller
stacks and emitting pollutants at higher temperatures.
Many large fossil-fuel power plants disperse their
effluents in this way.
Stack heights of 250 to 300 m are commonly used.
A few are 400 m tall.
Plume Rise
Horizontal wind speed also affects plume rise
the higher the wind speed, the more quickly the
plume bends over and becomes transported
Although higher wind speeds decrease plume rise,
dispersion may not be affected adversely because
of the greater volume of air moving past the
High winds usually enhance the dispersion
Plume Rise
Plume rise is adversely affected by atmospheric
As the atmosphere becomes stable, that is, under
inversion conditions, plume rise can be markedly
reduced. Dispersion is decreased, resulting in
higher ground level concentrations downwind.

Plume Rise
H = h
+ H
where (h
) is the physical stack height portion and
(H) is the plume rise
The standard plume rise formula used in most EPA air
dispersion models is based on a review of empirical data
performed by Briggs (1969).
However it requires extensive calculations. Therefore we will
use Hollands formula in this class. Hollands equation is
valid only for Stability Class - D, correction factor of 1.2
for classes of A and B, and of 0.8 for classes of E and F
should be used.
h= plume rise, m
= stack exit velocity, m/s
D= stack diameter, m
u= wind speed, m/s
P= pressure, mb
= stack gas temperature, K
= atmospheric temperature, K
( )

+ =

a s s
10 68 . 2 5 . 1
Therefore, the wind speed power law must be used to convert
near-sur-face wind speed data into a wind speed
representative of the conditions at the effective plume
and z
correspond to the wind speed and vertical height of
the wind station, while u
and z
pertain to the
characteristics at the upper elevation. discusses these
The exponent (p) varies with the type of ambient weather
conditions, generally increasing with stability and surface
roughness (Irwin 1979). It can range from 0.1 for calm
conditions to 0.4 for turbulent weather conditions.
Wind Speed Profile
Downwind transport
As the plume moves
downwind, it expands.
Mean concentrations of
pollutants in this plume
show a Gaussian, that
is, a bell-shaped,
distribution, with highest
concentrations in the
center line and decreasing
as a function of distance
from the center line.
Figure 3.11 from Air Quality by Godish
The Gaussian Model
Turner, 1970
The Gaussian Model
As the plume propagates downwind, at some point the lowest edge of the
plume strikes the ground. At that point, the portion of the plume impacting the
ground is reflected upward since no absorption or deposition is assumed
tooccur on the ground (conservation of matter).This reflection causes the
concentration of the plume to be greater in that area downwind and near the
ground from the impact site. Functionally this effect can be mimicked, within
the model with a virtual point source created identical tothe original, emitting
from a mirror image below the stack base as shown in the following figure.
Adding another term to the equation can account for this reflection of the
pollutants as follows:
From EEH
The Gaussian Model
For the concentrations at ground level, z can be set equal
to zero, and the equation reduces as follows:
In addition, the plume centerline gives the maximum values.
Therefore, setting y equal to zero gives the following
Finally, if the emission source is located at ground level
with no effective plume rise, the equation can be reduced
to its minimum as follows:
The Gaussian Model
A number of assumptions are typically used for Gaussian modeling.
First, the analysis assumes a steady-state system (i.e., a source
continuously emits at a constant strength; the wind speed,
direction, and diffusion characteristics of the plume remain
steady; and no chemical trans-formations take place in the
Second, diffusion in the x direction is ignored although transport
in this direction is accounted for by wind speed.
Third, the plume is reflected up at the ground rather than being
deposited, according to the rules of conservation of matter (i.e.,
none of the pollutant is removed from the plume as it moves
Fourth, the model applies to an ideal aerosol or an inert gas.
Particles greater than 20 mm in diameter tend to settle out of the
atmosphere at an appreciable rate.
Dispersion Coefficients,
Dispersion Coefficients,
All large structures distort the atmosphere and interfere with
wind flow to some extent. These atmospheric dis-tortions
usually take the form of a wake, which consists of a pocket
of slower, more turbulent air. If a plume is emitted near a
wake, it is usually pulled down because of the lower
pressure in the wake region.
This effect is termed downwash.
A wake that causes downwash usually occurs as the result of
one of three physical conditions:
the stack, referred to as stack-tip downwash,
local topography, or
nearby large structures or building downwash.
Stack-Tip Downwash
Stack-tip downwash occurs when the ambient wind speed is high enough
relative to the exit velocity of the plume so that some or all of the
plume is pulled into the wake directly downwind of the stack,
Downwash Caused by Topography
Large hills or mountains can change the normal wind patterns of an area.
If the stack is located closely downwind of a hill above stack height,
the air flowing off the hill can cause the plume to impact closer to the
stack than normal.
Building Downwash
Large structures surrounding the stack also affect ambient wind
conditions. The boundaries of the wake region resulting from
surrounding structures are not sharply defined. They depend on the
three-dimensional characteris-tics of the structure and are time
From EEH
Other Models
The box and the gaussian models are source oriented
There are other models called as receptor oriented models.
Using concentrations measured at one or more sites, one attemps to
determine which sources contributed to the concentration at that
If the pollutant is chemically uniform (e.g., CO, O
, SO
), then
there is no way to distinguish b/w sources.
But, if the pollutant is PM that consists of wide variety of chemical
species, then by analyzing the chemical composition one can make
inferences about the sources.
The result of such an analysis is called source apportionment or
Chemical Mass Balance, CMB