Army

Predictive environmental impact modeling system

Improved toxic emissions data for decision-makers

Software & Information Technology Environmental

A U.S. Army scientist working at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center’s Environmental Laboratory (ERDC EL) recently developed a computerized system for modeling the environmental effects of a chemical or chemical combination. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

The EPA and other regulatory agencies utilize two types of studies in formulating emission standards. Fate studies to determine how toxins move through the environment, and toxicity/species impact studies, which determine the impact of toxins on particular species at specific concentrations.

Agencies face significant challenges in obtaining data to develop consistent emissions standards. First, it is particularly difficult to obtain species impact data for contaminants introduced into their environment. Accordingly, government agencies rely on mathematical modeling in the absence of field data to determine assumed species impact rates. Second, obtaining species impact data is costly and time-consuming. The EPA cannot afford to test all emissions and must rely on data from many sources, including studies performed by the regulated industries themselves. Finally, environmental models are not designed to efficiently predict concentrations that will produce an approximately equivalent impact. These comparative concentration levels are critical for establishing uniform regulations as to the amount and rate at which substances can be emitted into these environments.

As such, there is an unmet need for environmental modeling systems that can predict and compare the environmental impact of toxins and the acceptable emissions levels based on known environmental data.

In order to address these needs, an ERDC EL scientist has developed a comprehensive, predictive environmental impact model. It instantiates (fabricates a data object or structure which may or may not have independent processing capability) emission objects representing single or compound emissions. These objects track emission properties and include a processing function for simultaneously updating multiple singular or interdependent species impact models associated with an emission, in real-time.

Each emission object contains one or more species impact models that represent the impact of emission on a species. The model may be any data structure that can store value pairs of a quantified species impact value linked to an emissions concentration value. Extrapolation and update processors allow statistical extrapolation of value pairs and updating emission properties.

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