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We use large eddy simulations to investigate the puff and droplet dynamics from violent expiratory events such as coughs and sneezes in the first few seconds following an ejection. For each of the eleven simulations considered, over 60,000 droplets are ejected and individually tracked using the point-particle Euler–Lagrange approach. We test the sensitivity of the puff and droplet dynamics to various parameters including the ejection volume, momentum, and orientation. We also explore the effect of the mouth shape on the aforementioned dynamics by considering elliptical and circular inlet cross-sections. The results from the simulations compare favorably with a recent theoretical framework put forth by Balachandar et al. (2020) in terms of the puff size and propagation velocity. More importantly however, the theory is able to accurately predict the number and size spectra of the potentially virus-laden droplet nuclei that remain airborne within the puff. We observe that the ejection angle and mouth shape do not significantly affect the puff and droplet dynamics. Additionally, we quantify the carrying capacity of the detached puff portions in terms of the number and size spectra of droplets/droplet nuclei suspended within.


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Computers and Fluids



Available for download on Thursday, January 30, 2025