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3D Lagrangian Particle Tracking In A Model Of The Human Airways

Benedikt Harald Johanning-Meiners, Luca Mayolle, Wolfgang Schröder, Michael Klaas

Chair of Fluid Mechanics and Institute of Aerodynamics, Aachen, Germany


The three-dimensional flow field in the trachea of a physiologically correct model of the human respiratory tract from the nasal/oral cavities up to the 6th bronchi generation is investigated. The investigations comprise steady inflow conditions, i.e., steady inhalation and oscillatory flow combining inspiration and expiration to simulate calm breathing. A realistic breathing pattern is approximated by a sinusoidal waveform for two Womersley numbers of 3 and 4.5 and two Reynolds numbers of 400 and 1200. Due to the inherent three-dimensional and asymmetric nature of the flow field, 3D particle-tracking velocimetry (3D-PTV) measurements are performed using the Shake-The-Box (StB) algorithm to determine the influence of oral and nasal inhalation and exhalation on the flow field in the lower human airways. By using a refractive-index matched fluid consisting of water and glycerin, the complex flow structures inside the trachea are fully resolved. During oscillatory inhalation/exhalation, an integration window size of 6/40 pi was chosen as it can be considered short enough to assume a steady state. The PTV measurements confirm that the nasal and/or oral cavity must be taken into account when analyzing the flow field in the lower respiratory tract. Characteristic sets of velocity profiles in the sagittal and coronal plane of the trachea as well as contour plots evidence nearly identical flow structures for both oral and nasal inhalation, but also reveal that the presence of both cavities possesses a huge impact on the flow field compared to ideal, i.e., fully developed inflow conditions

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