College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

CoMFRE team publishes review of respiratory protection devices research – the past and the future

Droplets leaving a human body and falling to the ground

Droplets leaving a human body and falling to the groundAn interdisciplinary team of CoMFRE affiliates led by Guowen Song, professor of apparel, events and hospitality management and Noma Scott Lloyd Chair in Textiles and Clothing, published a review article in Polymers about research on the area of respiratory protection devices (RPDs).

The paper, titled “What We are Learning From COVID-19 for Respiratory Protection: Contemporary and Emerging Issues,” summarizes past research on the effectiveness of RPDs and identifies emerging current and future research in the area.

Song’s author team covers issues facing RPD performance and comfort, along with user behavior that influences PRD effectiveness. They also discuss numerical modeling approaches to simulate RPD use and inform PRD design, development and policy – and addresses RPD decontamination and reuse. With an eye on the future, the team suggests additional RPD research, including novel materials and next-generation designs.

“The RPDs are crucial to us during this pandemic, and this work provides valuable insights in the identified knowledge gaps and future directions with diverse perspectives,” said Song.

In addition to Song, authors of the paper include Lizhi Wang, professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; Alberto Passalacqua, CoMFRE affiliate and associate professor of mechanical engineering; Shankar Subramaniam, CoMFRE affiliate and professor of mechanical engineering; Rui Li, research associate professor of apparel, events and hospitality management; Mengying Zhang, a former postdoctoral researcher in apparel, events and hospitality management; Yulin Wu, graduate student in apparel, events and hospitality management; Liwen Wang, graduate student in apparel, events and hospitality management: James Lang, assistant professor of kinesiology, along with collaborators from the University of California, Davis and Oklahoma State University.

The author team states that studying RPD (PPE) requires a cross-disciplinary approach, echoed in collaborative nature of this and other CoMFRE research efforts.

“CoMFRE offers a crucial shared ‘home’ for researchers from different disciplines to join together to take on the pressing questions in multiphase flows, including the ongoing challenges we face in RPDs,” said Song. 

The team’s work was supported by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the program of Occupational Safety and Health Research and by Iowa State University’s Office of the Vice President for Research Presidential Interdisciplinary Research Initiative.