Engineers from the Rice University in Houston, Texas, US, have developed a new computer model based on data gathered from the Houston Ship Channel to show how the contents of failed aboveground storage tanks can spread following natural disasters such as hurricanes. The data was gathered during and after hurricane Ike in 2008 and Harvey in 2017.
The computational model, according to atmospheric scientist Rob Griffin of Rice’s Brown School of Engineering, uses real data from the two storms as a proof of concept. The model is available upon request to help researchers predict the ‘what if’ consequences of future storms that threaten storage tanks or chemical spills in general.
The researchers noted that models could provide the only means to estimate the spread of pollutants that threaten the population downwind of a spill if a storm knocks out air quality monitoring systems in its path.
Griffin noted the model isn’t set up to allow a company to predict the effects of a single tank failure. “It’s a more general model of a region with tanks that are likely to fail, based on real situations that happened,” he said. “But we can make the chemistry and atmospheric code available. If others want to study a given storm situation and a given leaking tank, some significant legwork would need to go into that.”
Read the full report from the Rice University here.
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