BI-IEnKF coupling model for effective source term estimation of natural gas leakage in urban utility tunnels

Jiansong Wu*, Jitao Cai, Zhe Liu, Shuaiqi Yuan, Yiping Bai, Rui Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


As an effective way to facilitate the increasing demand for reliable infrastructure, energy supply and sustainable urban development, underground utility tunnels have been developed rapidly in recent years. Due to the widespread distribution of utility tunnels, the safe operation of natural gas pipelines accommodated in utility tunnels has caused great concern considering fire, explosion, and other coupling consequences induced by the gas pipeline leakage. However, the limited information on leakage source terms in accidental leakage scenarios could preclude timely consequence assessment and effective emergency response. In this study, a BI-IEnKF coupling source term estimation (STE) model is developed, with the combination of gas dispersion model, Bayesian inference (BI) and iterative ensemble Kalman filter (IEnKF) method, to achieve the effective source term estimation (including leakage location and leakage rate) and gas concentration distribution prediction. The newly developed model is first evaluated by the twin experiment with good reliability and accuracy. Furthermore, three contributing factors affecting the performance of the developed BI-IEnKF coupling STE model were investigated to assist parameter selection for practical use. Additionally, the novel application of mobile sensors serving as an alternative for fixed sensors is explored, and an application framework is sequentially given to guide the deployment of the developed coupling model in utility tunnels. The results show that the developed model has great performance in accuracy, efficiency and robustness, as well as the potential to be applied in actual utility tunnel scenarios. This study can provide technical supports for safety control and emergency response in the case of natural gas pipeline leakage accidents in utility tunnels. Also, it could be helpful to reasonable references for gas lekage monitoring system design.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105080
JournalTunnelling and Underground Space Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Bayesian inference
  • Iterative ensemble Kalman filter
  • Natural gas leakage
  • Source term estimation
  • Utility tunnel


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