Transport and removal of expiratory droplets in hospital ward environment

C. Y.H. Chao, M. P. Wan, G. N. Sze To

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


The transport and removal characteristics of expiratory droplets at different supply airflow rates and "coughing" orientations were investigated both numerically and experimentally in a three-bed hospital ward setting. A Lagrangian-based particle-tracking model with near-wall correction functions for turbulence was employed to simulate the fate of the expiratory droplets. The model was tested against experimental droplet dispersion data obtained in an experimental hospital ward using Interferometric Mie Imaging and a light-scattering aerosol spectrometer. The change in airflow supply rate had insignificant effect on the transport and deposition of very large droplets (initial sizes ≥ 87.5 μm) due to the dominance of gravitational settling on these behaviors. Smaller droplets (initial sizes ≤ 45 μm) exhibited certain airborne behaviors. The effect of thermal plumes from heat sources was observed only when the supply airflow was low and when the droplet size was small, as observed in the vertical mixing patterns of the droplets of various sizes. Larger droplets tended to settle lower and lateral dispersion of the droplets became weak at the low supply airflow rate. The deposition characteristics for different surfaces in the room are described. The heat plumes seemed to obstruct small droplets from being deposited onto heated surfaces. More deposition was predicted in the lateral injection case compared with the vertical injection case. Adopting near-wall correction for turbulence in the model reduced the predicted deposition removal fraction by 25% for 1.5 μm droplets. This reduction became less significant for larger droplets due to the smaller dependence on turbulent diffusion in their deposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-394
Number of pages18
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Pollution


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