Dispersion of automotive alternative fuel vapors within a residence and its attached garage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A study was undertaken to investigate the use of mass balance modeling techniques to predict air pollution concentrations in residential settings where the source is evaporative emissions of alternative fuels emitted in the attached garage. Field study measurements of the spatial and temporal distribution of evaporative emissions in an attached garage were used to conduct this investigation. In this field study, known quantities of methanol were allowed to evaporate in the garage. Methanol concentrations were then measured and simulated in the garage. Because chemical and physical properties of this contaminant are clearly understood, it was possible to simulate the concentrations inside the remainder of the house. A multi-zonal mass balance model (CONTAM88) was used to predict the across-residence spatial and temporal distribution of concentrations of evaporative emissions from a methanol source inside the attached garage. The model's input data include physical characteristics of the house; parameters characterizing the leakiness of the house; heat, ventilation and air-conditioning system characteristics; fixed airflow data from vent registers; on-site meteorological measurements; and information on the contaminant source. Before using the model to simulate methanol dispersions, the model's performance was tested. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) measurements were taken throughout the residence and garage. The model was used to predict interzonal airflow rates and SF6 concentration distributions within the garage and the house, as well as to investigate the well-mixed zone assumption for the garage. Modeling results show that predicted garage SF6 concentrations agreed reasonably well with the measured concentrations under mixed conditions, but the model underpredicted the SF6 concentrations within rooms of the house where mixing was probably incomplete. Methanol simulation results showed that the model underpredicted by approximately 15 percent the garage methanol concentration after methanol emissions stopped. This study found that evaporative emissions in an attached garage have a tendency to infiltrate the house, with rooms adjacent to the garage showing the highest levels of methanol concentrations. Thus automotive evaporative emissions may represent a source of indoor pollution and human exposure in a residential attached garage and also in other critical locations of the residence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-126
Number of pages9
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Air pollution
  • Attached garage
  • Indoor air
  • Mass balance models
  • Methanol
  • Multizonal models

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Dispersion of automotive alternative fuel vapors within a residence and its attached garage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this