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Science of The Total Environment
Vol. 746, 2020

The role of computational fluid dynamics tools on investigation of pathogen transmission: Prevention and control

Shanbi Penga, Qikun Chenc, Enbin Liub

School of Civil Engineering and Geomatics, Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu 610500, China.


Transmission mechanics of infectious pathogen in various environments are of great complexity and has always been attracting many researchers' attention. As a cost-effective and powerful method, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) plays an important role in numerically solving environmental fluid mechanics. Besides, with the development of computer science, an increasing number of researchers start to analyze pathogen transmission by using CFD methods. Inspired by the impact of COVID-19, this review summarizes research works of pathogen transmission based on CFD methods with different models and algorithms. Defining the pathogen as the particle or gaseous in CFD simulation is a common method and epidemic models are used in some investigations to rise the authenticity of calculation. Although it is not so difficult to describe the physical characteristics of pathogens, how to describe the biological characteristics of it is still a big challenge in the CFD simulation. A series of investigations which analyzed pathogen transmission in different environments (hospital, teaching building, etc) demonstrated the effect of airflow on pathogen transmission and emphasized the importance of reasonable ventilation. Finally, this review presented three advanced methods: LBM method, Porous Media method, and Web-based forecasting method. Although CFD methods mentioned in this review may not alleviate the current pandemic situation, it helps researchers realize the transmission mechanisms of pathogens like viruses and bacteria and provides guidelines for reducing infection risk in epidemic or pandemic situations.

Keywords : COVID-19, Pathogen transmission, Airflow, CFD algorithms, Epidemic model.

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