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LSBU named as first test site for London air pollution study

Parts of London South Bank University (LSBU) campus become first test site in a new five-year research project looking at air pollution in London
19 September 2017

LSBU's Southwark campus is to become the focus of a new five-year study investigating how current pollution levels and heat island effects in cities can be reduced through the use of natural ventilation in buildings.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Managing Air for Green Inner Cities (MAGIC) project, will examine the interaction between indoor and outdoor pollution levels and air flows through salt-bath laboratory experiments, detailed computational modelling of turbulent air flows and physical modelling of wind tunnels. The project is led by Professors Paul Linden from the University of Cambridge, Christopher Pain from Imperial College London and Alan Robbins from the University of Surrey, with LSBU as one of the major partners in the project.

Nine outdoor sensors have already been placed within the Southwark area to monitor levels of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, temperature and humidity; an anemometer and pyrometer have also been placed on top of LSBU’s Keyworth Centre to measure wind and solar radiation. In addition, indoor sensors have been placed in the Clarence Centre for Enterprise and Innovation, to enable the study of outdoor-indoor pollutant and air flow interactions.

“We had many discussions and thought very hard about where the first test site should be,” said Dr Elsa Aristodemou, Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering at LSBU and co-investigator in the MAGIC project through her secondment at Imperial College London.

“Given the current regeneration and redevelopment in Elephant and Castle, the area around our campus seemed like the natural choice.”

Researchers from the MAGIC team will use data collected from the sensors over a four-month period to inform and validate a fully-resolved computational model that simulates the air flows and pollution dispersion around the buildings in the area.

It is hoped that the findings will influence policy and aid the decision making of urban architects and local authorities for future urban design in inner cities. The computational model will enable local authorities to predict and assess air pollution and heat levels in the urban areas within their remit.

“This is a very exciting project and I’m honoured to be working so closely with some of the best experts in the country working to address air pollution,” said Elsa. “While the results will help us to identify the areas we need to concentrate on most to tackle this important issue in our inner cities, I’m particularly looking forward to discovering new findings around the role of tall buildings and green infrastructure. We are very grateful to our local council and LSBU for making this particular study possible.”

Prof Linden added:

“We are very grateful for the cooperation of staff and others at LSBU in allowing us to deploy our sensors in the Clarence Centre. We hope that our results will lead to improvements in the indoor air quality experienced by the occupants of the centre.”

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