Suo Yang Helps School of Music Reduce Virus Spread Using Air Purifiers

ME Assistant Professor Suo Yang is working with the University of Minnesota School of Music to make in-person music lessons, instruction, and rehearsals safer for students and faculty using portable air purifiers, masks, and social distancing. Yang's research found that the strategic placement of air purifiers can enhance ventilation and therefore mitigate the spread of COVID-19 indoors. The School of Music was seeking ways to continue classroom instruction and ensemble performances while keeping students and faculty safe — a particular challenge for singers and instruments that rely on exhalation. "The music school was wondering what possible approaches could be used to mitigate the risk," said Yang. "The best idea is ventilation, but if the ventilation is not enough, then we need to enhance the ventilation by adding air purifiers."

Yang's team developed simulations based on the layout of practice rooms in Ferguson Hall with the goal of meeting the WHO ventilation rate guidelines. They found that with a combination of physical distance, face and instrument masks, and putting an air purifier in the flow path of each person in the room, more than 99 percent of the virus particles can be removed from the air. 

Watch the team's simulations here:

Read more about Yang's research and recommendations in this CSE feature story.