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Computational Simulation of COVID 19 aerosol dispersion in rooms




4: Architecture

Faculty Supervisor:

Prof. Leon Glicksman

Faculty email:


Apply by:



Prof. Glicksman, glicks@mit.edu

Project Description

Recent studies suggest that a major vehicle for SARS and COVID-19 transmission is bioaerosol dispersion in building interiors. However, the bioaerosol dispersion in classroom and office settings are poorly understood. For example, widespread COVID infection of customers within a Chinese restaurant have been attributed to HVAC units that set up horizontal air currents. A better understanding of aerosol dispersion requires joint efforts using both experimentation and computation to produce general recommendations. Computational Fluid Dynamic, CFD, programs can be used to simulate air flow patterns and aerosol dispersion in building interiors such as classrooms and open plan offices. In a related project, physical on-campus experiments will allow observation of air circulation patterns and measurement of the dispersion of a safe tracer gas in classrooms and verify the accuracy of the CFD simulations. Once verified, the CFD studies can be used to formulate the safest design and operation of conditioned air flow systems to maximize safe occupancy and energy efficiency of HVAC systems. New HVAC system designs that improve safety and efficiency will also be explored with the simulations.


Applicants are expected to ideally have an introductory knowledge of fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, for example from 2.005 and 2.006, and computer simulations. Prior knowledge of CFD is not required.