In a new study, the authors simulated the airflow in the car and calculated how best to reduce the spread of aerosols in the interior to avoid infection with coronavirus. The scientists found that turning on the ventilation system is not as good as opening windows. It also matters which windows you open, and some conclusions are quite contradictory.
“Our results show complex hydrodynamics during everyday trips to work and the ways in which open windows can either increase or decrease the transmission through the air,” – the authors of the study noted.
“According to our computer simulations, driving with air conditioning or heating on is definitely the worst-case scenario. The best option we found was to open all four windows, but even one or two open windows are much better than when all are closed,” said Asimanshu Das, a graduate student at Browne School of Engineering and co-author of the study.
However, for obvious reasons, opening all four windows every time you’re with someone in the car is not practical, especially when winter is already here. Suppose you just want to open one or two windows, which ones? The team has found that it is better to open the windows opposite the passengers. “When the windows opposite the passengers are open, you get a flow that enters the car behind the driver, passes through the cabin behind the passenger, and then leaves the front window on the passenger’s side. This pattern helps reduce cross-contamination between driver and passenger,” said co-author Kenny Breyer.