University of Maryland researcher Jelena Srebric (Principal Investigator) was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) RAPID grant for her project, titled Energy-Efficient Disinfection of Viral Bioaerosols in Public Spaces: Vital for Lifting of the "Stay-at-Home" Orders During the Covid-19 Outbreak.
This project will provide an analytical framework to assess potential reduction of infection risks from COVID-19 viral bioaerosols in public spaces, including school buses, classrooms, and retail stores. Viral bioaerosols may cause infection for occupants staying both near and far away from infected people, whether staying indoors at the same time or not. Upper-room germicidal ultraviolet (UR-GUV) light can provide a real-time air disinfection solution with a relatively small energy footprint if its light effectively interacts with the bioaerosol both in the air and on surfaces. This project will develop and disseminate an open-source numerical analytical framework including assessment of UR-GUV disinfection and make it publicly available online to provide a free resource useful for helping to control the spread of airborne COVID-19 infections in public spaces. An effective, real-time, and sustainable engineering solution for air indoor space disinfection is an important precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly in the context of efforts to restart the nation's economy.
The project will develop numerical methods based on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to reproduce the processes for viral bioaerosols spread by indoor airflow, removed by exhaust, inactivated by UR-GUV, inhaled by the occupants, and deposited onto surfaces in public spaces of varied spatial scales, ventilation systems, as well as population size and density. This project will also optimize the application of ceiling fans to improve UR-GUV disinfection efficacy. The investigation will provide new insight on infection risk due to viral aerosols and infection control by UR-GUV for surfaces contaminated by viral bioaerosols. In addition, the project will consider two UV-C sources, one by traditional mercury vapor UV-C lamps (UV-C-MV) and another by UV-C-LED for their energy efficiency. The comparison of the two UV-C sources in terms of disinfection, energy efficiencies, and operation cost holds promise for a sustainable UR-GUV solution for minimizing infection risk in public spaces.