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.