Technical Brief

A Conjugate Fluid–Porous Approach for Simulating Airflow in Realistic Geometric Representations of the Human Respiratory System

[+] Author and Article Information
Christopher T. DeGroot

Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering,
Western University,
London, ON N6A 5B9, Canada
e-mail: cdegroo5@uwo.ca

Anthony G. Straatman

Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering,
Western University,
London, ON N6A 5B9, Canada
e-mail: astraatman@eng.uwo.ca

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received January 28, 2015; final manuscript received November 27, 2015; published online January 29, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Naomi Chesler.

J Biomech Eng 138(3), 034501 (Jan 29, 2016) (7 pages) Paper No: BIO-15-1036; doi: 10.1115/1.4032113 History: Received January 28, 2015; Revised November 27, 2015

Simulation of flow in the human lung is of great practical interest as a means to study the detailed flow patterns within the airways for many physiological applications. While computational simulation techniques are quite mature, lung simulations are particularly complicated due to the vast separation of length scales between upper airways and alveoli. Many past studies have presented numerical results for truncated airway trees, however, there are significant difficulties in connecting such results with respiratory airway models. This article presents a new modeling paradigm for flow in the full lung, based on a conjugate fluid–porous formulation where the upper airway is considered as a fluid region with the remainder of the lung being considered as a coupled porous region. Results are presented for a realistic lung geometry obtained from computed tomography (CT) images, which show the method's potential as being more efficient and practical than attempting to directly simulate flow in the full lung.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

An illustration of the combined airway tree (inner structure) and the lung surfaces (remaining structure)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Plots of the computational meshes for the lung geometry showing (a) the main lung mesh and (b) the trachea extension

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

A plot of the maximum pressure difference within the domain as a function of time, where t = 0 represents the beginning of the breath cycle at maximum inflation

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Contour plots of the pressure in Pascals for the times: (a) 0.75, (b) 1.25, (c) 1.75, (d) 2.5, (e) 3.25, (f) 3.75, (g) 4.25, and (h) 5.0 s from the beginning of the breath cycle

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Contour plots of velocity vectors in the xy-plane, at times: (a) and (b) 1.25 and (c) and (d) 3.75 s from the beginning of the breath cycle



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