Physics of Fluids

Numerical investigation of droplets in a cross-ventilated space with sitting passengers under asymptomatic virus transmission conditions

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Asymptomatic virus transmission in public transportation is a complex process difficult to analyze computationally and experimentally. We present a high-resolution computational study for investigating droplets dynamics under a speech-like exhalation mode. A large eddy simulation coupled with Lagrangian tracking of drops was used to model a rectangular space with sitting thermal bodies and cross-ventilated with a multislot diffuser. Release of drops from different seat positions was evaluated to analyze the decontamination performance of the ventilation system. The results showed an overall good performance, with an average of 24.1% of droplets removed through the exhaust in the first 40 s. The droplets’ distribution revealed that higher concentrations were less prevalent along the center of the domain where the passengers sit. Longitudinal contamination between rows was noted, which is a negative aspect for containing the risk of infection in a given row but has the benefit of diluting the concentration of infectious droplets. Droplets from the window seat raised more vertically and invaded the space of other passengers to a lesser extent. In contrast, droplets released from the middle seat contaminated more the aisle passenger’s space, indicating that downward flow from personal ventilation could move down droplets to its breathing region. Droplets released from the aisle were dragged down by the ventilation system immediately. The distance of drops to the mouth of the passengers showed that the majority passed at a relatively safe distance. However, a few of them passed at a close distance of the order of magnitude of 1 cm.


21 Dec 2021


Physics of Fluids