Towards Safer Work Environments During the COVID-19 Crisis

Project Details
  • Title: Zoe DeSimone Patrick Kastner, Timur Dogan
  • Date: 2020 - Ongoing
  • Link: Website

As work environments struggle to reopen during the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to establish practical decision-aiding tools. While a strong emphasis has been placed on determining generic guidelines to reduce the risk of airborne viral spread, there is a lack of free and easy-to-use simulation workflows to quantify indoor air quality and the risk of airborne pathogens indoors at a spatial resolution that can take into account floor-plan layouts, furniture, and ventilation inlet-outlet positions. This paper describes the development of a new, free, early design tool that allows designers and other stakeholders to simulate and compare viral airborne concentration under different indoor conditions. The tool leverages OpenFOAM-based Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and a passive scalar

simulation approach to allow architects and interior designers to quantify airborne pathogens' exposure. The tool is integrated into the popular Rhino3d & Grasshopper CAD environment to facilitate its application in fast-paced design processes. We demonstrate good agreement compared to a CFD benchmark test. Further, we validate newly developed COVID-19 capabilities by comparing our results to an existing restaurant case study that included tracer gas measurements and validation using Fluent (Ansys). We demonstrate applications of the tool in a comparative study of a restaurant that investigates how plan and furniture layout interventions, ventilation strategies can impact the movement of airborne pathogens in indoor environments.