Air pollution accurately modelled in minutes

Air pollution accurately modelled in minutes

A new system can accurately model air quality in large cities in minutes, within five metres of any given location using just a standard office computer.

The new RapidAir software, developed by Sussex-based company Ricardo, can predict what air quality will be, depending on various factors.

The findings were revealed from a research collaboration between Dr Nicola Masey and Ricardo. Dr Masey tested the software by looking at historic pollution records from 86 sites across London and comparing them to estimates from RapidAir. The software’s results matched records, showing that it was a good predictor.

 “We want to build on the air quality monitoring systems that are in place across the UK, particularly in large cities, and enhance the information available to public and policymakers,” says Dr Masey, an expert in the modelling of the dispersion of air pollution from road sources for local and city-wide scales.

“The usefulness of monitoring has been limited by the fact that it only measures air quality in specific spots, when air quality can change dramatically in just a few metres. In streets surrounded by tall buildings, for example, air pollution can become trapped, especially if the wind is blowing from a direction perpendicular to the street.”

Dr Masey measured nitrogen oxide, but the system can be run for any pollutants for which emissions are known.

The study was part-funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) through a CASE studentship, a research collaboration between academic and non-academic partner organisations, whether businesses like Ricardo or third sector organisations.

Dr Masey is an Air Quality Consultant at Ricardo Energy & Environment.

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Further information

Read more on NERC's website