Chaos and the flow capture problem: Polluting is easy, cleaning is hard

Lachlan D. Smith, Guy Metcalfe, Julio M. Ottino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cleaning pollution from a heterogeneous ow environment is far from simple. We consider the ow capture problem, which has ows and sinks in a heterogeneous environment, and investigate the problem of positioning pollutant capture units. We show that arrays of capture units carry a high risk of failure without accounting for environmental heterogeneity and chaos in their placement, design, and operation. Our idealized 2-dimensional models reveal salient features of the problem. Maximum capture effciency depends on the required capture rate: long term effciency decreases as the number of capture units increases, whereas short term effciency increases. If effciency is important, the capture process should begin as early as feasible. Knowledge of transport controlling ow structures offers predictability for unit placement. We demonstrate two heuristic approaches to near-optimally position capture units.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Feb 26 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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