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Characterization of the indoor near-field aerosol transmission in a model commercial office building...

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International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer
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To evaluate the exposure potential of infectious aerosols containing SARS-CoV-2 in an office building setting, synthetic test aerosols were used to experimental study airborne particle transmission in a multizone small office test building at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Nine measurement points in a single zone using active aerosol impactors report that the coefficient of variation of the time-averaged concentration is <10% in two campaigns and < 15% in one campaign, so a nearly well-mixed condition was noted. To understand the effect of HVAC system operation on the dynamic concentration of aerosols in office spaces, an aerosol transport model that includes factors such as outside air (OA) ratio, filtration, return air fraction, transport loss in air ducts, and particle deposition has been developed. The results of model fitting demonstrate strong agreement with experimental data. Our investigation finds the return air fraction effects outweigh other mechanisms for the aerosol recirculation in this study, and the impact of air change rate (ACR) is more important than the small particle deposition for aerosol removal. Because ACR dominates the aerosol transport, the full model can be simplified to just one factor, the ACR, while maintaining an acceptable representation of the experimental data.