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Study into Propagation of Aerosols in an HVAC System

Date: 
Friday, 25 September, 2020 - 13:00
Category: 
CFD Analysis
Town: 
Town 1

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, LCI Consultants have completed over 20 reviews for major healthcare providers such as Austin Health, Royal Melbourne Hospital, and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) since March 2020.

Inspired by discussions with both Private and Public health providers about the potential of COVID aerosol particles to travel through buildings, Principal Simon Witts and Mechanical Engineer Sam Coleman have authored an unparalleled study on the ‘Propagation of Droplets in an HVAC System’.

Sought to determine the potential for droplets expelled from persons when sneezing or coughing to propagate through a typical HVAC system within a building, the study uses Multi-Phase Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling within a theoretical office layout to identify where droplet nuclei would be carried to by the HVAC system, and where they would be likely to come to rest on surfaces.

It was found that the particles can pass through a modelled HVAC system between rooms, with the exact amount determinant of a number of factors, including the quantity of turns and fittings in ductwork,  filtration and initial droplet size and quantity.

The study outlines the potential risks associated with poorly planned service design within sectors unexclusive to healthcare, but extending other facets of the built environment; commercial buildings where people work, communal civic buildings, and educational institutes where pupils congregate in large numbers within auditoriums.

A visual summary of the study and be viewed here: 

LCI Consultants continues to support healthcare providers by continuing our advisory work within engineering design services, equipment reviews, and CFD analysis, to find solutions for improved patient wellbeing and infection control.

Our acknowledgments: This research was supported by Leap Australia who provided both ANSYS software for simulations and technical expertise with CFD Models. We specifically wish to thank our colleagues Joel Thakker and Lewis Clark.