Identification of contaminant sources in enclosed environments by inverse CFD modeling

T. F. Zhang, Q. Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


In case contaminants are found in enclosed environments such as aircraft cabins or buildings, it is useful to find the contaminant sources. One method to locate contaminant sources is by inverse computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling. As the inverse CFD modeling is ill posed, this paper has proposed to solve a quasi-reversibility (QR) equation for contaminant transport. The equation improves the numerical stability by replacing the second-order diffusion term with a fourth-order stabilization term in the governing equation of contaminant transport. In addition, a numerical scheme for solving the QR equation in unstructured meshes has been developed. This paper demonstrates how to use the inverse CFD model with the QR equation and numerical scheme to identify gaseous contaminant sources in a two-dimensional aircraft cabin and in a three-dimensional office. The inverse CFD model could identify the contaminant source locations but not very accurate contaminant source strength because of the dispersive property of the QR equation. The results also show that this method works better for convection dominant flows than the flows that convection is not so important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007


  • CFD
  • Enclosed environment
  • Inverse modeling
  • Numerical stability
  • Quasi-reversibility equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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