DTRA gives grant for airborne agents algorithm

Boise State University professors Inanc Senocak and Jodi Mead have received a grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the National Science Foundation to develop an algorithm for potentially hazardous airborne agents.  

The algorithm will take data from how an airborne agent has dispersed and it will determine where the agent originated from and how far it will spread. The applications of the algorithm include defense, industrial accidents, viruses and air pollution reports the Arbiter.

"The focus is to develop a methodology that will hopefully be used in the future...the application motivates the methodology," Mead said, according to the Arbiter.

The algorithm that Mead and Senocak are developing can help determine how necessary evacuations are near an accident site or terrorist attack. A train collision in Graniteville, South Carolina, in 2005, which released 90 tons of chlorine gas into the air, lea to nine deaths and to the evacuation of over 5,000 people. The algorithm could quickly pinpoint the source of the contaminant and how far it could spread in such a catastrophe, which would assist HAZMAT crews in saving lives and faster decontamination.

Mead and Senocak and their students are going to a Defense Threat Reduction Agency workshop this summer after they hash out the theoretical portion during an academic conference later this week, the Arbiter reports.

"At that point DTRA can use the algorithm we've developed and adapt it however they want," Senocak said, according to the Arbiter. "The applied side of the problem is not in the scope of our project. The fundamental mathematical methodology is our focus."