Effect of ventilation strategy on performance of upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) system in a learning environment

Seongjun Park, Richard Mistrick, William Sitzabee, Donghyun Rim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) system is recently in the limelight as a potentially effective method to mitigate the risk of airborne virus infection in indoor environments. However, few studies quantitatively evaluated the relationship between ventilation effectiveness and virus disinfection performance of a UVGI system. The objective of this study is to investigate the effects of ventilation strategy on detailed airflow distributions and UVGI disinfection performance in an occupied classroom. Three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations were performed for representative cooling, heating, and ventilation scenarios. The results show that when the ventilation rate is 1.1 h−1 (the minimum ventilation rate based on ASHRAE 62.1), enhancing indoor air circulation with the mixing fan notably improves the UVGI disinfection performance, especially for cooling with displacement ventilation and all-air-heating conditions. However, increasing indoor air mixing yields negligible effect on the disinfection performance for forced-convection cooling condition. The results also reveal that regardless of indoor thermal condition, disinfection effectiveness of a UVGI system increases as ventilation effectiveness is close to unity. Moreover, when the room average air speed is >0.1 m/s, upper-room UVGI system could yield about 90% disinfection effect for the aerosol size of 1 μm–10 μm. The findings of this study imply that upper-room UVGI systems in indoor environments (i.e., classrooms, hospitals) should be designed considering ventilation strategy and occupancy conditions, especially for occupied buildings with insufficient air mixing throughout the space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number165454
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 15 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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