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Optimization designs of artificial facilities in deserts based on computational simulation

Abstract

Sediment transport of sand particles by wind is one of the main processes leading to desertification in arid regions, which severely impairs the ability of mankind to produce and live by drifting sand into settlements. Optimization designs of artificial facilities have lately attracted extensive interest for human settlement systems in deserts because of their acceptable protection effect, convenience of implementation, and low material cost. However, the complexity of a settlement system poses challenges concerning finding suitable materials, artificial facilities, and optimization designs for sand deposition protection. In an effort to overcome these challenges, we propose a settlement system built with brick, solar panel, and building arrays to meet the basic needs of human settlements in arid regions while preventing wind-sand disasters. The wind flow and movement characteristics of sand particles in the brick, panel, and building arrays were calculated using computational fluid dynamics and discrete phase model. The performance of three types of arrays in wind-sand flow in terms of decreasing the wind velocity and sand-particle invasion distance was evaluated. The results show that the wind velocity near the surface and the sand invasion distance were significantly decreased in the space between the brick arrays through properly selected vertical size and interspaces, indicating that the brick arrays have an impressive sand fixing and blocking performance; their effective protection distance was 3–4 m. The building arrays increased the near-surface wind velocity among buildings, resulting in less deposition of sand particles. The solar panel arrays were similar to the building arrays in most cases, but the deposition of sand particles on solar panels exerted a negative effect on energy utilization efficiency. Therefore, taking the optimal configuration of the settlement system into consideration, this study concludes that (1) brick arrays, which were proven effective in preventing sand particles, must be arranged in an upwind area; (2) solar panel arrays could accelerate the wind flow, so they are best to be arranged at the place where sand particles deposited easily; and (3) building arrays present a better arrangement in downwind areas.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (11772143, 11702163, 41730644) and the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0500901).

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Correspondence to Ning Huang or Jie Zhang.

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Dun, H., Huang, N. & Zhang, J. Optimization designs of artificial facilities in deserts based on computational simulation. J. Arid Land 13, 290–302 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0059-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0059-4

Keywords

  • desert city
  • sand deposition
  • optimization
  • wind flow
  • sand movement