Inverse tracking of an airborne pollutant source location in a residential apartment by joint simulation of CFD and a multizone model

  • Yibing Hu
  • Haidong WangEmail author
  • Jiajia Cheng
  • Enbo Wang
Research Article Indoor/Outdoor Airflow and Air Quality


Prompt identification of an indoor air pollutant source location is important for the safety of building residents in gaseous contaminant leakage incidents. Using the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) method in such inverse modeling is time consuming, especially for naturally ventilated residential buildings, which have multiple rooms and require consideration both indoor and outdoor environments. This paper compares the results of the pollutant source location identification and the simulation time based on two different inverse modeling methods: the CFD method and joint modeling of the multizone and CFD methods, to discuss the consumption of the computing time, as well as the accuracy of the location identification result. An instantaneous airborne pollutant source is assumed in a typical residential apartment that utilizes natural ventilation. A CFD model with the computational domain of the whole apartment and surrounding environment is built, for which the adjoint probability method is applied to simulate the source location probability from limited sensor readings. Meanwhile, a multizone model of the apartment is built to simulate and identify the room in which the source is located using the adjoint probability method. The CFD method is applied to the identified room afterwards to identify the exact location of the source within that room. The joint simulation of CFD and the multizone model is verified by a scaled model experiment of the apartment. It is found that the joint simulation method can significantly reduce the computing time and provides a good alternative for real-time inverse tracking of the indoor airborne pollutant.


multizone model CFD indoor airborne pollutant adjoint probability method joint simulation 


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This work is financially supported by National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (No. 51508326).


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Copyright information

© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yibing Hu
    • 1
  • Haidong Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jiajia Cheng
    • 2
  • Enbo Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environment and ArchitectureUniversity of Shanghai for Science and TechnologyShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Tianhua Architecture Planning & Engineering Co. Ltd.ShanghaiChina

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