Researchers Fulvio Scarano (Aerospace Engineering), Wouter van den Bos and Lorenzo Botto (Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering) have developed software that can calculate the risk of the Covid-19 contagion in specific locations such as a lecture hall. The programme focuses on the dispersion of aerosols and serves as a plug-in to existing ventilation simulation software.
The application can simulate how quickly virus particles spread, helping determine whether sitting in an aircraft, classroom or restaurant is safe.
- TU Delft TV made a short documentary on this new Covid-19 software:
“The special thing about this app is that it works in existing software,” explains engineer Wouter van den Bos (Transport Engineering and Logistics). “We use so-called CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software that can simulate airflow and water currents.” The software makes the invisible visible as it shows how even the smallest virus particles can spread around a room.
He continues. “When you cough or talk, you emit all kinds of virus particles. The biggest ones fall directly to the ground, but the smaller particles, the so called aerosols, spread slowly and sort of stay floating in the air.”
So let’s say, for instance, a lecturer in front of a class sneezes or coughs. The software that Van den Bos and his colleagues have developed will simulate how long it will take for the particles to spread across the room. Based on these simulations they can predict whether it is safe to even be in that classroom in the first place.
However, can we trust the software given that these are just calculations? Professor Fulvio Scarano believes so. “Besides software development, we ran some simple tests with a human using particle image velocimetry (PIV). This is a technique that measures the velocity of air, allowing us to check that our breathing velocity is exactly the same as what we put into the software.”
The researchers also ran checks for coughing and speaking. “It is vital to verify that the simulation includes every aspect of reality in its calculations,” explains Scarano.
How our new normal will look is still unclear. Hopefully, this application, which will probably become available in February, can help us get there.