Investigating the effect of oil spills
on the environment and public health.
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Funding Source: Year One Block Grant - The Alabama Marine Environmental Science Consortium

Project Overview

High-Fidelity Modeling of Transport of Oil-Derived Particulates Using an Equilibrium Eulerian Method

Principal Investigator
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


This project is concerned with the efforts to investigate the physical  processes that affect transport, dispersion, dilution, distribution,  and fate of oil-derived substances with an important objective of  understanding the transport and fate of contaminants associated with  the Deepwater Horizon incident. The overarching goal of the proposed  research is to identify and determine the kinematic and dynamic  transport processes that govern the distribution, dispersion,  dilution, and fate of oil-derived substances in Alabama’s coastal  waters. The specific task of this project is to conduct process- oriented numerical modeling for enhanced descriptions of the transport  of oil-derived particulates based on the equilibrium Eulerian method.
A concentration module based on the equilibrium Eulerian method will  be incorporated into a system-wide hydrodynamic model of Alabama’s  coastal waters for descriptions of particle transport.  This method  provides descriptions of the dynamics of particles moving in a fluid  flow with a high-order approximation.  It is formulated based on a  series expansion of the particle velocity in terms of its local fluid  velocity and acceleration, and the particle response time. 

The main  advantage of the equilibrium Eulerian method is its efficiency in  computations as the velocity of the particles is explicitly expressed  in terms of their surrounding fluid velocity in the Eulerian framework  with no need to solve additional partial differential equations while  accounting for the finite inertia of particles that are critically  neglected in hydrodynamic models.  Heavier-than-fluid particles avoid  the cores of flow vortices due to the centrifugal effects accumulating  in regions of high strain rates.  In contrast, lighter particles tend to accumulate in regions with high vorticity magnitudes.

This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.