CORAERO Airborne Transmission of SARS Coronavirus
The Helmholtz CORAERO project aims at broad interdisciplinary contributions to understanding virus spreading through aerosols and designing technical and administrative measures for mitigation and virus control. We propose research and technology transfer for novel technologies that inactivate SARS-CoV-2 and other virus, in the air and on surfaces. Therefore, CORAERO joins scientists from virus biology, medicine, applied physics, chemistry, material science, engineering as well as technology assessment and develops knowledge about virus propagation and novel inactivation technologies important for schools, factories, passenger transport systems and public places.
Scientific and engineering progress in the field requires a collaborative approach that combines new knowledge about virus survival under different conditions and treatments with knowledge from material sciences, fluid dynamics and thermodynamics.
The project CORAERO addresses its research questions in four methodological subprojects (SP) aligned along the infection chain:
SP1 is dedicated to the bioaerosol source. It gains fundamental knowledge on aerosol generation, virus load and activity in aerosols and develops new virus diagnostic tools. SP1 is centred on virus biology and medicine. It is operated in a clinical and bio-laboratory environment using facilities of TUM, HMGU and UKA in Munich and Augsburg. SP1 also addresses the needs from industrial partners for suitable and safe testing facilities. Knowledge gained can be transferred to other pathogens and future pandemic situations.
SP2 targets open questions of airborne virus transmission with an extended focus on dynamic systems and bioaerosol thermodynamics. It develops tools and products for fast numerical analyses of spreading scenarios, new multi-physics numerical modules and volumetric experimental flow analyses to aid the industrial design of purification technologies. It comprises methodological work around numerical and experimental fluid dynamics using unique experimental facilities, such as AIDA Lab (KIT) for aerosol studies and a generic research and demonstrator room consisting of several thermal and cyclically breathing manikins for large-scale aerosol transport investigations at DLR. The demonstrator room will allow to demonstrate and assess the most promising mitigation techniques developed during the course of our research project by all three subprojects or provided by industrial partners in a realistic room configuration.
SP3 deals with engineered virus-inactivating surfaces and efficient airflow purification and incorporates new fundamental knowledge from nanostructured materials. Selective microwave heating, wet filtering and other alternative selective purification technologies are investigated in combination with specially functionalized filter materials. DESY and GSI develop functionalized surfaces and filter materials at world-leading X-ray analytics (PETRA III) and heavy ion beam-lines (UNILAC) and test their new technologies with real virus in a BSL3 test lab in SP1. Experimental and engineering work is carried out at the TOPFLOW+ Fluid Dynamics Facility (HZDR) and the HEPHAISTOS Microwave Lab (KIT).
SP4 deals with Social, legal, economic and ethical aspects – Integrated Technology Assessment (TA) (KIT, all other partners). The work package functions as a continuous reflection for the project by providing continuous and integrated feedback on potential and emerging social, legal and ethical implications as well as issues of trust and acceptance. This will identify gaps and allow new information to flow into the research and technology development throughout the project. This WP is based on "Real-Time TA" whereby TA is embedded throughout the design and development of the technology by providing analysis and information to the research team at regular intervals. This will include assessments of relevant critical aspects as an "early warning" and foresight by drawing on the expertise of the research team and expanding its interdisciplinary communication and competencies.
A Helmholtz Research School operated as one Profile Element assures a structured and co-supervised training of a cohort of up to 14 doctoral students in this interdisciplinary field.
Two Transfer Tandem Groups as a second Profile Element are responsible for transferring the most promising technologies in analytics, measurement techniques, simulation tools and system design, identified by the Project Consortium and Associated Partners, into higher TRL levels and industrial utilization.
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