Building Simulation: An International Journal

Article Title

Principles and applications of probability-based inverse modeling method for finding indoor airborne contaminant sources


indoor air quality, contaminant source identification, inverse modeling, adjoint probability method


Building indoor air quality (IAQ) has received growing attentions lately because of the extended time people spend indoors and the increasing reports of health problems related to poor indoor environments. Recent alarms to potential terrorist attacks with airborne chemical and biological agents (CBA) have further highlighted the research needs on building vulnerability and protection. To maintain a healthful and safe indoor environment, it is crucial to identify contaminant source locations, strengths, and release histories. Accurate and prompt identification of contaminant sources can ensure that the contaminant sources can be quickly removed and contaminated spaces can be effectively isolated and cleaned. This paper introduces a probability concept based prediction method—the adjoint probability method-that can track potential indoor airborne contaminant sources with limited sensor outputs. The paper describes the principles of the method and presents the general modeling algorithm and procedure that can be implemented with current computational fluid dynamics (CFD) or multi-zone airflow models. The study demonstrates the application of the method for identifying airborne pollutant source locations in two realistic indoor environments with few sensor measurement outputs. The numerical simulations verify the feasibility and accuracy of the method for indoor pollutant tracking applications, which forms a good foundation for developing an intelligent and integrated indoor environment management system that can promptly respond to indoor pollution episodes with effective detection, analysis, and control.


Tsinghua University Press