Development of computational tools to simulate the dispersion of gases released by space vehicles at the Alcântara Launch Center

Name: Erick Giovani Sperandio Nascimento
Type: PhD thesis
Publication date: 11/10/2016

Namesort descending Role
Davidson Martins Moreira Advisor *

Examining board:

Namesort descending Role
Antonio Gledson de Oliveira Goulart External Examiner *
Davidson Martins Moreira Advisor *
Gilberto Fernando Fisch External Examiner *
Jane Meri Santos Internal Examiner *
Neyval Costa Reis Jr. Internal Examiner *
Taciana Toledo de Almeida Albuquerque Co advisor *

Summary: During the launch of rockets and spacecrafts, huge and hot clouds are generated near the ground level, and are composed by buoyant exhaust products, such as alumina, carbon monoxide and hydrogen chloride. This process takes a few minutes to occur, and generally populated areas nearby the launching center may be exposed to high levels of hazardous pollutant concentrations within few minutes to less than a couple of hours. Due to the specificity of the representation of the source term – which is the rocket exhaust cloud – and since a receptor can be impacted in less than one hour, common air quality models were not designed to deal with such a unique problem. Furthermore, the cloud may be transported to farther distances and impact receptors in longer time and space scales. Thus, the launching centers around the globe, like spaceports, need to operationally assess the short and long range impacts of rocket launch events in the environment through meteorological and air quality modeling. For this end, this work presents the development of a new model called Model for Simulating the Rocket Exhaust Dispersion – MSRED. It is based on a semi analytical three dimensional solution of the advection-diffusion equation, incorporating a modern three dimensional parameterization of the atmospheric turbulence, designed to simulate the formation, rise, expansion, stabilization and dispersion of rocket exhaust clouds for short range assessment, being able to directly read meteorological data from WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting) model output. And, for the long range and chemical transport modelling, the MSRED was built to be integrated to the Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ) model, by generating a ready-to-use initial conditions file to be input to CMAQ. Simulations and analysis were carried out in order to evaluate the application of this integrated modeling system for different rocket launch cases and atmospheric conditions, for the Alcântara Launching Center (CLA, the Brazilian gate to the space) region. This hybrid, modern and multidisciplinary system is the basis of a modeling framework that can be operationally employed at any launching center in the world, for pre- and post-launching simulations of the environmental effects of rocket operations.

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