Press release of July 29, 2021
HZDR team works on air purification concepts to reduce viruses
Full classrooms, travel on public transportation, relaxed shopping in malls – since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, these are not things to be taken for granted. In order to explore how virus transmission by aerosols and droplets can be avoided, seven Helmholtz centers, three universities and numerous business partners have come together in the CORAERO project which is receiving around six million euro from the Helmholtz Association’s Initiative and Networking Fund for a period of 4.5 years, starting in summer 2021. A research team at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) has been granted 1.2 million euro for experimental and numerical analyses of aerosol dispersion indoors and the development of special air purification technologies to reduce virus transmission indoors.
Even though there is an obvious connection to the current Corona pandemic, there is more to it than that: on the one hand, the aim of the project “Airborne Transmission of SARS Coronavirus – From Fundamental Science to Efficient Air Cleaning Systems” (CORAERO) is to develop technologies that can filter and deactivate viruses in the air as well as on surfaces. On the other, consideration is being given to the transfer of these results into practice.
At HZDR, it is the Head of Experimental Thermal Fluid Dynamics, Prof. Uwe Hampel, and his team who are contributing their expertise to the CORAERO project. The HZDR scientists will address three main areas:
“Everyone agrees that viruses are transmitted by aerosols,” explains Uwe Hampel, referring to the first area. “However, so far, we don’t know much about how exactly the aerosols spread in interior spaces and how we can optimize ventilation systems accordingly.” This is the point at which the Dresden researchers start work: they want to use experimental studies to investigate the spread of aerosols under different boundary conditions. If they manage to record the spread more precisely, they can proceed to a second step, developing targeted measures such as ventilation concepts and flow control in indoor spaces.
These activities will be supported by a second work package involving numerical simulations which will help to calculate the spread of aerosols in rooms. To this end, Dr. Gregory Lecrivain is developing software which can simulate aerosol transport together with evaporation as well as the inactivating effect of UV light, ozone and warmth.
In the third main area, HZDR scientists will explore alternative methods of air purification. Would it be possible to wash aerosols to make them harmless as is done in many industrial gas purification systems? Or could virus tests be used for entire rooms to identify infected people?
To work on these three main areas, the HZDR team is receiving 1.2 million euro from the budget for the entire CORAERO project.
As transfer is a core component of the collaborative project, from the very beginning, all subprojects will cooperate with partners in industry. In the last resort, those involved in the project want to develop and transfer technologies that can be used in schools, businesses, public transportation and in public places to try and prevent drastic measures, such as school closures, in the future.
Author: Kim-Astrid Magister
Prof. Uwe Hampel I Institute of Fluid Dynamics at HZDR
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Simon Schmitt | Head of Communications and Media Relations
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