Research Advancements to Reduce Fugitive Dust

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About 30 million acres of Department of Defense (DoD) lands are used to conduct military training and testing activities. Fugitive dust often results from such activities and has the potential to detrimentally impact the biophysical and human environment and reach levels that exceed air quality standards, which could lead to military readiness impacts if specific testing and training activities must be curtailed. Since 2000, SERDP has funded research to develop military-specific emission factors and dispersion models that will aid in the quantification of fugitive dust emissions. This research provides needed information to develop more cost-effective management strategies to mitigate the potential impact from military activities on dust emissions.

Dr. Jack Gillies, of the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, NV, has previously been funded through SERDP, under projects RC-1191 and RC-1399, to improve the understanding of fugitive dust generation due to training and testing activities and its effect on air quality at DoD installations. Currently, under project RC-1729, Dr. Gillies and his project team are improving the knowledge base of dust creating activities, quantifying dust emission potentials, and quantifying depositional losses in the near field. Research partners at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), supervised by Dr. Will Shaw, are integrating the new information into a state-of-the-art dust emission and dispersion model (DUSTRAN), developed previously with SERDP funding under project RC-1195. As part of the current project, DUSTRAN has been moved to an open-source platform and incorporated the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulatory Model (AERMOD) as its dispersion model, with new capabilities for near-source particle deposition processes also to be included.

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Developing measurement systems to quantify dust emission potential and dust emissions during testing and training activities for these SERDP projects has resulted in the recent acceptance of two of these methods by the U.S. EPA as Other Test Methods (OTM). The OTM designation means that when the methods are followed properly, the data obtained are considered to be an acceptable characterization of the emission potential or the emission flux for, in these cases, particulate matter (PM). The measurement methods developed with SERDP support are the Flux Towers, using U.S. EPA OTM 32, to characterize PM emission factors and the Testing Re-Entrained Aerosol Kinetic Emissions from Roads (TRAKER) vehicle, using U.S. EPA OTM 34, to measure emissions of dust from vehicle travel on paved and unpaved roads.

Recently, the project team for RC-1729 has been asked to aid the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, CA, and the U.S. Army Environmental Command (AEC), at Fort Sam Houston, TX, by estimating dust emissions caused by convoy activity on the Mannix Road that links the NTC with Barstow, CA. Currently, no data exist to evaluate the effectiveness of a magnesium chloride dust abatement treatment or to determine how close the cumulative emissions of PM10 are to the allowable annual amount (100 tons of PM10). Dr. Gillies and his team will acquire the data necessary to resolve this issue and demonstrate the capabilities of the approaches developed under SERDP funding to solve dust-related environmental issues at military installations.

To provide the needed information, the project team will be using their TRAKER vehicle to measure the emission of dust along 25 miles of roadway for three conditions: just before treatment with magnesium chloride, immediately following application, and a third measurement in three months following use by convoys from the NTC. The TRAKER vehicle (OTM 34) will provide data on the amount of dust released per vehicle kilometer of travel. The expectation is that the information from the TRAKER measurements can be used to develop a plan to reduce the cost of application significantly by lowering the application amount used and the number of times application is required, while maintaining compliance with air quality regulations.

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