Design firm Teague has proposed AirShield, a concept for a retrofittable HVAC fixture for airplanes that they say would limit the airborne spread of COVID particles.
Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.
“It’s airflow that plays the most significant role in the spread of Covid-19 in an airplane,” writes the firm. “By creating our own computational fluid dynamics model (CFD), we were able to simulate the airflow in the cabin and trace the water vapor droplets from an unguarded sneeze.”
With that sneeze serving as a stand-in for a COVID-infected passenger’s exhalations, AirShield was designed to prevent that exhaled air from reaching nearby passengers. It consists of a 3D-printed assembly that can be retrofitted over the existing air gaspers (those overhead air-blowing nozzles with the rotating rim) and channels their output into a “blade” of flowing air that encircles each passenger.
“Similar to the warm air curtain you will have experienced when walking through a doorway of any retail outlet during winter months, this laminar profile of airflow creates a barrier around each seat that disrupts the normal circulation of air. When a passenger breathes, coughs, or even sneezes, the water vapor is contained within that passenger space and is immediately redirected downwards and out of the cabin to the HEPA filtration units before it has the opportunity to enter the personal space of a neighboring passenger.”
Teague doesn’t mention cost, but is betting that the speed with which AirShields could be rolled out will be attractive to airlines:
“The AirShield is a single 3D printed component that fits directly on to the PSU* rail over the top of existing gaspers. The simplicity of the design means that with just one grill per seat row, the 60 grills required to fit a narrow-body aircraft could be fitted overnight as a service bulletin, something other solutions so far haven’t been able to address.”
*PSU = Passenger Service Unit. This is airline industry jargon for the overhead module containing the gaspers, the reading lights, the attendant-summoning buttons, etc.
Lastly, the company points out that the system could expand beyond airplanes: “There is the possibility to ‘blade’ a variety of social spaces, from gyms and workspaces to retail and restaurants.”