Australian research project to focus on IAQ

The Australian Research Council has confirmed $5 million in funding for a new training centre to reduce airborne infections through improved indoor air quality for better public health in new building systems.

The project, backed by various universities and industry partners – including many from the HVAC&R sector – will be led by QUT Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska. Prof. Morawska has been a recognised leader in the fight for better indoor air quality, alerting the world to the airborne transmission of respiratory infections including COVID-19, and calling for a ventilation revolution.

“I firmly believe the centre will be a catalyst for revolution and bring us closer to clean indoor air becoming the norm,” she says.

“Our work will see Australian building system manufacturing companies working alongside international companies, as forerunners in establishing the new norm.”

Prof. Morawska notes that every year acute respiratory illnesses, such as colds and influenza, cause an estimated 18 billion upper airway infections and 340 million lower respiratory infections, resulting in more than 2.7 million deaths and billions of dollars in economic losses.

“Respiratory infectious diseases spread mainly by airborne transmission, which is the inhalation from the air of virus or bacteria-laden particles generated during breathing, speaking and all other human respiratory activities.

“Protecting building occupants from airborne infection in all shared interior spaces must be strategically controlled.

“This has never previously been envisioned outside specialised sections of healthcare facilities.”

The centre will develop new intelligent building systems, improved building technologies, quantitative methods for building control, evidence for policymaking and recommendations for operational guidelines. It is also expected to deliver benefits by reducing the health and economic burden of inadequate indoor air quality, and improving Australia’s competitiveness in the demand for next-level building systems.

Located at QUT Gardens Point campus, the centre will include international experts and partners from Australia, USA, Italy, Finland, China, The Netherlands, and Sweden.

University collaborators include QUT, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, Jinan University, Peking University, University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, and the University of Surrey.

Industry partners include Aerosol Devices, AIRAH, AREMA, Aspen Medical, BULCS Holdings, Indoor Air Quality, Mycotec, Philips Domestic Appliances, QED Environmental Services, Samsung, Trane Technologies, Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Hub, Federation of Finnish HVAC Societies, Fraunhofer WKI, and WHP Architects.

The centre is one of six new Industrial Transformation Training Centres announced as part of a $29.3 million fund by the ARC Industrial Transformation Program to train Australia’s next generation of research professionals, and increase collaboration with industries vital to Australia’s social and economic future.

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