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Title: Dispersion of Radionuclides and Exposure Assessment in Urban Environments: A Joint CEA and LLNL Report

In the interest of promoting the international exchange of technical expertise, the US Department of Energy’s Office of Emergency Operations (NA-40) and the French Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) requested that the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California host a joint table top exercise with experts in emergency management and atmospheric transport modeling. In this table top exercise, LLNL and CEA compared each other’s flow and dispersion models. The goal of the comparison is to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, capabilities, and practices, and to demonstrate the utility of modeling dispersal at different levels of computational fidelity. Two modeling approaches were examined, a regional scale modeling approach, appropriate for simple terrain and/or very large releases, and an urban scale modeling approach, appropriate for small releases in a city environment. This report is a summary of LLNL and CEA modeling efforts from this exercise. Two different types of LLNL and CEA models were employed in the analysis: urban-scale models (Aeolus CFD at LLNL/NARAC and Parallel- Micro-SWIFT-SPRAY, PMSS, at CEA) for analysis of a 5,000 Ci radiological release and Lagrangian Particle Dispersion Models (LODI at LLNL/NARAC and PSPRAY atmore » CEA) for analysis of a much larger (500,000 Ci) regional radiological release. Two densely-populated urban locations were chosen: Chicago with its high-rise skyline and gridded street network and Paris with its more consistent, lower building height and complex unaligned street network. Each location was considered under early summer daytime and nighttime conditions. Different levels of fidelity were chosen for each scale: (1) lower fidelity mass-consistent diagnostic, intermediate fidelity Navier-Stokes RANS models, and higher fidelity Navier-Stokes LES for urban-scale analysis, and (2) lower-fidelity single-profile meteorology versus higher-fidelity three-dimensional gridded weather forecast for regional-scale analysis. Tradeoffs between computation time and the fidelity of the results are discussed for both scales. LES, for example, requires nearly 100 times more processor time than the mass-consistent diagnostic model or the RANS model, and seems better able to capture flow entrainment behind tall buildings. As anticipated, results obtained by LLNL and CEA at regional scale around Chicago and Paris look very similar in terms of both atmospheric dispersion of the radiological release and total effective dose. Both LLNL and CEA used the same meteorological data, Lagrangian particle dispersion models, and the same dose coefficients. LLNL and CEA urban-scale modeling results show consistent phenomenological behavior and predict similar impacted areas even though the detailed 3D flow patterns differ, particularly for the Chicago cases where differences in vertical entrainment behind tall buildings are particularly notable. Although RANS and LES (LLNL) models incorporate more detailed physics than do mass-consistent diagnostic flow models (CEA), it is not possible to reach definite conclusions about the prediction fidelity of the various models as experimental measurements were not available for comparison. Stronger conclusions about the relative performances of the models involved and evaluation of the tradeoffs involved in model simplification could be made with a systematic benchmarking of urban-scale modeling. This could be the purpose of a future US / French collaborative exercise.« less
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  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
  2. Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Paris (France)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States); Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Paris (France)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States