Professor Swetaprovo Chaudhuri of the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) normally spends his time thinking about the motion of fluids through jet engines.
Now, that expertise is being used to understand the spread of COVID-19.
“In aircraft engines, fuel is injected into the combustor in a fine spray of droplets with sizes somewhat similar to what is ejected while coughing or sneezing,” he says. “While the specific conditions of a respiratory spray are different, the same fundamental physics are involved.”
Back in March, as the pandemic ramped up across Canada and other nations, Chaudhuri called up some long-time collaborators: Professor Abhishek Saha at the University of California San Diego, and Professor Saptarshi Basu of the Indian Institute of Science.
Together, they started to consider what it would take to adapt the physics-based models traditionally used for their work in combustion to instead describe the processes involved in transmitting the new virus.