Estimation of infection risk through airborne transmission in large open spaces with different air distributions

Jialei Shen, Kaloki Nabutola, Michael J. Birnkrant, Peter J. McKinney, Bing Dong, Jianshun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Articlepeer-review


Respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 can be spread through airborne transmission, which is highly dependent on the airflow pattern of the studied room. Indoor air is typically not perfectly mixed even using a mixing ventilation, especially in large spaces. Airflow patterns in large open spaces such as hotel banquet rooms and open plan offices, are of particular concern, as these spaces usually accommodate more occupants and thus have the potential to spread diseases more rapidly leading to outbreaks. Therefore, understanding airflow patterns in large open spaces can help to estimate the detailed infection risk at certain locations in the space, which can prevent the spread of virus and track the potential new infections. This study estimated airflow patterns in a typical banquet room under theatre and banquet scenarios, and a large open plan office using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. Typical ventilation and air distribution approaches, as well as room layouts and occupant configurations in these scenarios were studied and applied in simulations. According to current results, the air distribution in a typical hotel banquet room with mixing ventilation can be very complicated, particularly for the banquet scenario. For a typical theatre scenario, under typical ventilation design, people sitting in the middle and lateral area were exposed to the highest infection risk. The front rows may be exposed to short-range transmission as well. For a banquet scenario, people sitting on the same table were more likely to be cross contaminated. But cross-table infection was still possible. The results can provide guidance on designing ventilation and air distribution approaches in large spaces with similar settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number05017
JournalE3S Web of Conferences
StatePublished - Aug 31 2022
Event16th ROOMVENT Conference, ROOMVENT 2022 - Xi'an, China
Duration: Sep 16 2022Sep 19 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Energy
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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