Previous studies show that upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) systems can help contain infectious airborne viruses indoors. However, there has been a lack of research on the performance of an upper-room UVGI system in learning environments such as a school classroom. Since classrooms are more vulnerable to airborne transmission of diseases due to high occupancy for long hours, airborne infection characteristics are different from other occupied indoor environments (e.g., offices and residences). The objective of this study is to investigate UVGI system performance in a classroom considering detailed effects of ventilation rate, UV fluence rate, and UV radiating volume. Two analytical models, a one-zone and a two-zone material balance model, along with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations, were employed to analyze viral aerosol concentrations under a representative range of classroom operating conditions. The CFD results show that increasing ventilation rate from 1.1 h–1 to 5 h–1 yields about 85% of airborne disinfection while doubling UV radiating volume results in a 60% disinfection. However, increasing UV fluence rate from 25 μW∙cm–2 to 50 μW∙cm–2 yields a moderate additional disinfection of 18%. Overall, the study results reveal that operating a UVGI system in an occupied classroom can markedly disinfect airborne viruses up to 96%, which is as effective as increasing ventilation rate more than five times. Furthermore, the results suggest that the one-zone and two-zone analytical models used in several previous studies could result in notably meaningful errors in analyzing viral aerosol concentrations, especially in occupied rooms with a highly non-uniform airflow distribution.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment