Steve Lindsay

Computer fluid dynamics modelling of indoor climate in rural sub-Saharan African houses


CFD modelling of indoor climate in rural sub-Saharan African houses

Principal investigator

Steve Lindsay

Department of Biosciences, Durham University, UK



  1. Jakob Knudsen

The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Design and Conservation, Copenhagen, Denmark (KADK)

2.   Daniel Sang-Hoon Lee

The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Design and conservation, The School of Architecture, Copenhagen, Denmark (KADK)

3.   Lorenz von Seidlein

Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Bangkok, Thailand


Lay Summary

Malaria and other mosquito-transmitted diseases remain a major health challenge in rural Africa. The population of Africa is projected to increase from 1.2 billion in 2015 to 2.1 billion in 2050. New houses, both rural and urban, are being constructed in large numbers in sub-Saharan Africa every year to accommodate the yearly population growth of more than 20 million people. There is at the same time solid evidence that building design and vector density inside a building are strongly linked. Building interventions like metal roofs, closed eaves, ceilings, screened doors and windows closely correlate with the mosquito density inside the building but may also reduce thermal comfort by increasing the indoor temperature and decreasing airflow. The end result is suboptimal use of long-lasting insecticidal nets (ITN’s), the most important tool against malaria, since it is often too hot to use nets at night. Computer fluid dynamics (CFD) is a mathematical tool increasingly used to model and evaluate various physical states in fluids and structures, including the indoor and outdoor comfort of buildings. CFD allows the detailed evaluation of indoor climate before the house is built. In the past we were restricted to trial and error when we wanted to optimize the climate performance of new buildings, but now we have an analytical system that allows us to explore the indoor climate before a building is constructed. Today architects and engineers can produce detailed 3D drawings of buildings and building components and import these drawings in high-end CFD software which allows modelling any kind of fluid inside or outside the planned building. This includes airflow, temperature (energy), humidity and CO2 concentration. The CFD simulations can be incorporated with very detailed and specific local parameters (micro climatic weather data) which allows precise predictions of climate conditions in the planned building. Once a set of reliable basic CFD models have been validated it becomes possible to create a wide range of 3D models to predict indoor climate depending on building design and materials used. We have a large range indoor climate data collected from different typologies of rural houses in The Gambia and Tanzania which will be used to simulate conditions experienced in real life. This study will provide fundamental information on how high-end modelling tools used by engineers and designers in industrialized parts of the world could play a crucial role in reducing diseases like malaria. If successful, the findings from this study will provide information needed to make recommendations on house design in sub-Saharan Africa. This will potentially influence international and local policy on house construction.