A team of scientists is using the largest football stadium in the Netherlands and its empty stands to set up models that reproduce how fans spit saliva into the air as they cheer on their teams. To do this, the researchers spray tiny droplets to mimic how the saliva of fans would travel through the air.
Scientists are confident that, by knowing more about how aerosols, the tiny particles that move through the air and spread coronavirus among crowds, behave, they can find a way to remove them from the air and get team fans back to the stadiums.
“There is little information in the scientific literature on the behavior of aerosols in this type of environment,” says lead researcher Bert Blocken, who directs the tests at the Johan Cruijff Arena. [“Cruijff” es la denominación original del apellido “Cruyff”, de uso más habitual fuera de los Países Bajos], headquarters of Ajax in Amsterdam.
“We want to get a fundamental insight into the behavior of aerosols in a stadium full of football fans. Using air-cleaning technologies can drastically reduce concentrations and make stadiums safe against virus transmission by aerosols, ”says the researcher, Professor of Aerodynamics at the Technical University of Eindhoven.
Consensus is growing among scientists that Aerosols play a role in the spread of the virus, although the extent to which it is not yet known. Researchers in the Netherlands are confident that the information they glean from the experiment will help minimize the concentration of aerosols and limit the risk of diffusion.
A computer model will extrapolate the data collected at the stadium over several weeks of testing to show the effects of a crowd of some 55,000 fans, which is equal to the capacity of Johan Cruyff. The researchers hope to get permission soon to experiment with 730 soccer fans sitting close to each other.
The ultimate goal of the scientific endeavor is to make stadiums full again, says Blocken, applying large-scale COVID-19 detection tests, forcing the use of masks and ensuring ventilation. This is what the Johan Cruyff stadium needs to survive, according to its director, Henk Markerink: “This is a very expensive building and the income [actuales] they represent less than half of normal, so we are having losses every month. “And he adds:” We try to keep the ship afloat, but this should not last for long because in the end this cannot be financed.