Experimental and CFD study of unsteady airborne pollutant transport within an aircraft cabin mock-up

Wei Yan, Yuanhui Zhang, Yigang Sun, Dongning Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been documented that diseases can spread within an aircraft cabin from the sneezing, coughing or breathing of a sick passenger. To understand the spreading mechanism it is very important to quantify the airflow and droplet transmission around a sneezing/coughing incident. In this project, tracer gas experiments were carried out in a full-scale Boeing 767-300 mock-up to study the global transport process of contaminated air within the cabin. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation was also used to provide additional information for understanding the principle. A steady airflow field was simulated first and then it was compared with the experimental data. The global airflow patterns were similar to those observed experimentally. This velocity field was adopted as the initial condition for further unsteady pollutant transport simulation. Experimental and simulated results were compared and discussed to develop a relationship between concentration and airflow pattern, source location, transport direction, and ventilation rate. Finally, the overall picture of concentration evolution by both experimental and simulated approaches was discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalBuilding and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Aircraft cabin
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Indoor air quality
  • Tracer gas
  • Ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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