An LNG release, transport, and fate model system for marine spills

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LNGMAP, a fully integrated, geographic information based modular system, has been developed to predict the fate and transport of marine spills of LNG. The model is organized as a discrete set of linked algorithms that represent the processes (time dependent release rate, spreading, transport on the water surface, evaporation from the water surface, transport and dispersion in the atmosphere, and, if ignited, burning and associated radiated heat fields) affecting LNG once it is released into the environment. A particle-based approach is employed in which discrete masses of LNG released from the source are modeled as individual masses of LNG or spillets. The model is designed to predict the gas mass balance as a function of time and to display the spatial and temporal evolution of the gas (and radiated energy field). LNGMAP has been validated by comparisons to predictions of models developed by ABS Consulting and Sandia for time dependent point releases from a draining tank, with and without burning. Simulations were in excellent agreement with those performed by ABS Consulting and consistent with Sandia's steady state results. To illustrate the model predictive capability for realistic emergency scenarios, simulations were performed for a tanker entering Block Island Sound. Three hypothetical cases were studied: the first assumes the vessel continues on course after the spill starts, the second that the vessel stops as soon as practical after the release begins (3 min), and the third that the vessel grounds at the closest site practical. The model shows that the areas of the surface pool and the incident thermal radiation field (with burning) are minimized and dispersed vapor cloud area (without burning) maximized if the vessel continues on course. For this case the surface pool area, with burning, is substantially smaller than for the without burning case because of the higher mass loss rate from the surface pool due to burning. Since the vessel speed substantially exceeds the spill spreading rate, both the thermal radiation fields and surface pool trail the vessel. The relative directions and speeds of the wind and vessel movement govern the orientation of the dispersed plume. If the vessel stops, the areas of the surface pool and incident radiation field (with burning) are maximized and the dispersed cloud area (without burning) minimized. The longer the delay in stopping the vessel, the smaller the peak values are for the pool area and the size of the thermal radiation field. Once the vessel stops, the spill pool is adjacent to the vessel and moving down current. The thermal radiation field is oriented similarly. These results may be particularly useful in contingency planning for underway vessels. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Hazardous Materials