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Proceedings of the 27th National and 5th International ISHMT-ASTFE Heat and Mass Transfer Conference December 14-17, 2023, IIT Patna, Patna-801106, Bihar, India
December, 14-17, 2023, Bihar, India

Dispersion of Cough Droplets in an Enclosed Environment − Effect of Ambient Airflow

Get access (open in a dialog) DOI: 10.1615/IHMTC-2023.1250
pages 773-778


Airborne droplets generated from sneezing or coughing are a significant concern for formulating social distancing guidelines. Previous research primarily focuses on droplet dispersion in a quiescent ambient, where the surrounding airflow patterns are generally neglected. The present work demonstrates that the surrounding flow field affects droplet dispersion and can be tailored to reduce droplet spread. A numerical study is performed using an OpenFOAM solver. An elevator with a person standing near the side wall is studied. Cough-generated droplets emitted from his/her mouth are simulated. The effect of ceiling fan-induced air flow on cough dispersion is reported. Replacing the ceiling fan with an exhaust fan reduces the spray penetration and aids containment. The temporal evolution of spray dispersion is presented for various configurations. The safety aspect of each design is discussed in light of spray penetration and the possible spread of airborne pathogens.