IIT-Bombay duo studied coughs to model spread of Covid-19

Bhardwaj and Agrawal, both experts within the field of hydraulics , said their understanding of the motion of fluids helped them model how the novel coronavirus spread.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the planet , IIT-Bombay Professor Rajneesh Bhardwaj was studying how droplets evaporated for applications in spray cooling and inkjet printing, and his collaborator Amit Agrawal was performing on point-of-care medical devices and electronic cooling.
But once it became clear that the pandemic was mainly spreading through cough and sneeze aerosols from infected individuals, the duo began applying their knowledge to know the evaporation of respiratory droplets from surfaces and therefore the spread of cough clouds.

“Our plans were to continue within the domain of thermal and fluid engineering. However, the pandemic came as a chance to diversify and explore other research areas. We thought of extending and applying our knowledge to many unanswered questions within the context of COVID-19,” Agrawal, Institute Chair Professor from the Department of engineering , IIT-Bombay, told PTI.

Bhardwaj and Agrawal, both experts within the field of hydraulics , said their understanding of the motion of fluids helped them model how the novel coronavirus spread.
“Air and water are the foremost common fluids, and also the carrier of most viruses and bacteria, it’s not that surprising that the topic is playing a crucial role in understanding and managing the present pandemic,” Bhardwaj told PTI.

Numerous studies, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, applied principles of hydraulics to supply many important insights about the space over which different size respiratory droplets travel, the safe distance between people, and therefore the efficacy of varied sorts of masks in reducing the transfer of contaminated droplets.

Scientists also probed into the method by which larger droplets underwent evaporation and subsequently precipitation to show into microdroplets called aerosols.

“During this process, big droplets choose the bottom after a brief distance on the wing while the smaller ones remain airborne for a extended period forming aerosols,” explained Saptarshi Basu, from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

“In short, the whole story of droplets resulting in infections may be a fluid dynamics problem,” Basu, Chair Professor within the Department of engineering , told PTI.

Two studies by Basu and his team, both published within the journal Physics of Fluids, applied fluid dynamics experiments to point out how the respiratory droplets dried and formed aerosols, and the way virus particles are distributed within them.

According to the IISc scientist, factors like people’s mask wearing behaviour, social distancing, population density, and movement of people contribute significantly to the infection rate and severity during a region.

However, he believes a number of the first contributors include how respiratory droplets evaporate after ejection, how far they travel, and the way they disperse.

“All the above control how droplets can infect people and norms like safe distance for social distancing,” said Basu, who has been studying the physics of droplets in applications starting from 3D printing, surface patterning, combustion, and biomedical engineering.

As economies slowly opened across the planet post lockdowns, and travel restrictions eased, scientists and engineers also applied hydraulics to shed light on the indoor spread of the coronavirus.

Scientists, led by Verghese Mathai from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, US, performed computer simulations to know the aerosol spread of the coronavirus inside car cabins.

“I had gained industrial experience with this specific sort of computational fluid dynamics simulations while i used to be in India, and my suggestion to use these simulations was primarily motivated by the very fact that we couldn’t perform experiments thanks to the stay-at-home orders, and therefore the pandemic situation required results with a brief turnaround ,” Mathai said.

The scientists could quickly apply principles wont to test flows inside an engine and suggest the safest thanks to prevent possible transmission of COVID-19 when people travel in cars during a study published within the journal Science.“This is a superb example of how the pandemic made researchers revisit their complementary skills and are available together to figure on a crucial topic,” Mathai said.

“So this simulation approach are often extended to trains or buses and that we can answer important questions on airflows and aerosol sort of particles. we will also check out confined buildings, or long queues of individuals and the way potentially pathogen laden airflows around them might get diluted,” he said.

Several studies, published within the journal Physics of Fluids, helped predict how the virus spread at different conditions, like temperature, CO2 concentration, and humidity.

“Those predictions allowed us to spot critical situations for virus transmission,” explained Douglas Fontes from the University of Central Florida within the US.

Leave a Comment