As part of a ‘First of a Kind’ demonstrator initiative, organised by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) and funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), Frazer-Nash Consultancy, a KBR company, has supported Atmo Technology Limited to demonstrate how its novel monitoring technology could help the rail industry to improve air quality at stations and depots.
The SBRI competition aims to accelerate innovation in the UK rail sector, by using novel technologies that can be integrated into a railway environment. Atmo and Frazer-Nash’s project focused on Theme 3 of the competition, ‘Low emissions and a greener railway’, exploring how technology can help rail organisations to improve the air quality at their stations.
The project, which has recently been completed, used data from Atmo Technology’s LoRaWAN, 4g and GPS enabled Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, to deliver real-time air quality measurements at Bristol Temple Meads station. This data was then fed into Frazer‑Nash’s digital twin of the station, to provide an in-depth understanding of emissions’ sources, the risks they present, and potential mitigation measures that could improve air quality.
By understanding the site-wide pollution levels and how these relate to particular emissions’ sources, the work helped to identify which mitigation measures would be most effective in minimising the exposure of staff and the public to airborne substances and enables Bristol Temple Meads to be a good neighbour to its local area.
Holly Schneeberger, of Frazer-Nash, who developed the digital twin, said:
“The digital twin was developed using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations, based on the geometry of the station and surrounding buildings. It included 32 unique sources of pollution, from trains at platforms to the taxis at the rank outside. The digital twin was used to develop station-wide risk maps, highlighting the areas most at risk of poor air quality, and the role played by specific emission sources.
“The digital twin was then used to assess the effectiveness of potential air quality mitigation measures for the station. The mitigations were simulated by removing or modifying the levels of pollutant sources, allowing the digital twin to predict the air quality across the station if the mitigation measures had been implemented.
“As it can be very costly to implement air quality mitigation measures – and extremely difficult to demonstrate the benefit that these measures will have before significant capital investment – the ability to quantify the benefit before significant capital outlay is a huge benefit to the rail industry in tackling air quality.”
Carla Pires, of Atmo Technology, said:
“Air pollution is one of the greatest environmental risks to health in the UK. Our site data and environmental data help to enact data-driven policies with regard to environmental monitoring and decarbonisation.”
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