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Micro Particle Transport and Deposition in Human Upper Airways

[+] Author Affiliations
Jim S. Chen, Jinho Kim

Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Paper No. IMECE2007-42928, pp. 271-280; 10 pages
  • ASME 2007 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 2: Biomedical and Biotechnology Engineering
  • Seattle, Washington, USA, November 11–15, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4296-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3812-9
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


The hazard caused by inhaled particles depends on the site at which they deposit within the respiratory system. Knowledge of respiratory aerosol deposition rates and locations is necessary to (1) evaluate potential health effects and establish critical exposure limits and (2) design effective inhaled medications that target specific lung regions. Particles smaller than 10 μm in diameter can be breathed into lungs and are known as inhalable particles, while most of larger particles settle in mouth and nose. Inhalable particles settle in different regions of the lungs and the settling regions depends on the particle size. The motion of a particle is mainly affected by the inertia of the particle and by the particle’s aerodynamic drag. The most important dimensionless parameters in the prediction of particle motion are the flow Reynolds number and the Stoke number, which combines the effects of particle diameter, particle density, shape factor and slip factor. The purpose of this study is to investigate the airflows in human respiratory airways. The influence of particle size on transport and deposition patterns in the 3-D lung model of the human airways is the primary concern of this research. The lung model developed for this research extends from the trachea to the segmental bronchi and it is based on Weibel’s model. The velocity field of air is studied and particle transport and deposition are compared for particles in the diameter range of 1 μm – 100 μm (G0 to G2) and 0.1 μm – 10 μm (G3 to G5) at airflow rates of 6.0, 16.7, and 30.0 L/min, which represent breathing at rest, light activity, and heavy activity, respectively. The investigation is carried out by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) using the software Fluent 6.2. Three-dimensional, steady, incompressible, laminar flow is simulated to obtain the flow field. The discrete phase model (DPM) is then employed to predict the particle trajectories and the deposition efficiency by considering drag and gravity forces. In the present study, the Reynolds number in the range of 200 – 2000 and the Stoke number in the range of 10−5 – 0.12 are investigated. For particle size over 10 μm, deposition mainly occurs by inertial impaction, where deposition generally increases with increases in particle size and flow rate. Most of the larger micron sized particles are captured at the bifurcations, while submicron sized particles flow with the fluid into the lung lower airways. The trajectories of submicron sized particles are strongly influenced by the secondary flow in daughter branches. The present results of particle deposition efficiency in the human upper airways compared well with data in the literature.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME



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