Energy Efficient Ventilation for Improved Air Quality

Supervisor: Steven Rogak
Researcher: Amir Abbas Aliabadi


This project is to improve the ventilation performance of hospitals by reducing their energy consumption and infection risk simultaneously.


We assess the ventilation performance under various scenarios for contaminant release in a hospital inpatient room. We are primarily interested in coughs and sneezes as the source for airborne pathogens. We track pathogen motion in the ventilated space and the subsequent exposure for potential suspects. The metric is cumulative concentration of airborne pathogens over time for a given location in the ventilated space. We use aerosol detection experiments and Computational Fluid Dynamics to study dispersion of airborne particles.


Most conventional overhead ventilation systems fully mix the air in the room, as a result the distribution of pathogens in the room becomes more or less uniform. However, we have found that some alternative low energy ventilation systems (e.g. displacement ventilation) result in non-homogeneous distribution of airborne pathogens. This fact can be advantages, if building designers design hospital inpatient rooms in such a way that that subjects and airborne pathogens are segregated. For example, the pathogens can be directed towards the ceiling and removed, while the subject occupants can be placed in low risk areas of the room.


Our findings will be applied to improve building code and also help hospital designers design better and more efficient hospitals. The technology can be transfered to hospitals in the greater vancouver area.

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