A computational study of expiratory particle transport and vortex dynamics during breathing with and without face masks

Ali Khosronejad, Seokkoo Kang, Fabian Wermelinger, Petros Koumoutsakos, Fotis Sotiropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We present high-fidelity numerical simulations of expiratory biosol transport during normal breathing under indoor, stagnant air conditions with and without a facile mask. We investigate mask efficacy to suppress the spread of saliva particles that is underpinnings existing social distancing recommendations. The present simulations incorporate the effect of human anatomy and consider a spectrum of saliva particulate sizes that range from 0.1 to 10 μm while also accounting for their evaporation. The simulations elucidate the vorticity dynamics of human breathing and show that without a facile mask, saliva particulates could travel over 2.2 m away from the person. However, a non-medical grade face mask can drastically reduce saliva particulate propagation to 0.72 m away from the person. This study provides new quantitative evidence that facile masks can successfully suppress the spreading of saliva particulates due to normal breathing in indoor environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number066605
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021 Jun 1
Externally publishedYes

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