NCS project (National Covid Study)

NCS project (National Covid Study) | School of Earth and Environment | University of Leeds

Sorby Lab Suite undertook two projects in the Summer of 2020 which utilised the expertise of the lab’s Experimental Officer in the emerging challenges of understanding the spread of COVID 19. The first investigated mask fit for Global Challenges Research Fund in collaboration with our colleagues in the Department of Engineering. The second looked at spread of COVID through the playing of musical instruments and singing for the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport in collaboration with the School of Music and Opera North.

The experimental methodology in both projects utilised a thermal camera with CO2 filter to visualise the CO2 in the participants breath, with CO2 molecules used as a proxy for COVID due to it’s similar molecule size. Due to the success of these projects, Sorby was chosen as the experimental facility for the National COVID Study project, funded by the Health & Safety Executive.

The project combines the expertise from Schools of Earth and Environment, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Maths, with the Sorby Labs facing aspect visualising the flow field of a mask wearing polystyrene head (SAM, ‘the Sorby Airflow Mannequin’).

We established an experimental methodology to capture mechanisms of flow within and outside face masks. These simple visualisation experiments using an ultrasonic fogger to generate aerosols, and a fan to blow these through a SAM via a 25mm pipe. Illumination of the flow field by a 3R laser diode attached to a lightsheet optic provides good imagery, including via a probe lens inserted through the side of the mask. This set-up has been augmented with visualisations from a thermal camera. In summary, all experiments with the SAM indicate that the dispersal patterns are governed by the very simplistic geometry and flow characteristics.

This has informed for experimental methodology for phase 2, due to start in May 2021.


Outcomes reported direct to SAGE.