Predictive Modeling and Evaluation

Predictive Modeling and Evaluation Map

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Most or all state implementation plans pertaining to PM2.5 are likely to be developed with the aid of some type of atmospheric modeling to predict the reductions in PM2.5 attainable via reductions in power plant emissions. The accuracy of such predictions depends on how accurately the models represent the actual emissions and atmospheric chemistry/transport phenomena. Modeling studies supported by the NETL fine particulate matter (PM) program include: 

  1. Receptor-based (source apportionment) modeling pertinent to electric power sources. 
  2. Model evaluation using ambient PM mass measurements. 
  3. Methods for estimating the lifetime and transport distances of primary and secondary PM. 
  4. Quantifying the relationships between PM (nitric acid and sulfate) and NOx and SO2 emissions in the modeling domain. 
  5. Quantifying the contribution of primary and secondary organic aerosol emissions from power sources to observed organic PM.

Because the focus of the current NETL ambient monitoring program is the Upper Ohio River Valley, the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) modeling study will also target this region. In support of this effort, NETL is cooperating with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to compare the results of two existing deterministic models (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] Models-3 and the URM model) using the same set of input data on emissions and meteorological conditions.

The overall goal of the modeling work under the NETL program will be in the application of existing models to identify regional PM and precursor sources and to examine the effects of various PM reduction strategies, especially those involving coal-fired power plants, on PM levels at regional ambient receptors. The individual atmospheric reactions and underlying technical issues that constitute the development and refinement of the modeling systems are being addressed by other initiatives supported by DOE (specifically, the Office of Science Programs), EPA, and others. The outcome of the modeling studies is expected to be an improved description of the relative contribution of coal-fired power plants to ambient PM levels and a set of general guidelines that inform decision-makers of what to expect if emission reductions on coal-fired power plants in the modeled region are implemented.