, Volume 40, Issue 7, pp 1495-1507
Date: 14 Jan 2012

Effect of Carrier Gas Properties on Aerosol Distribution in a CT-based Human Airway Numerical Model

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The effect of carrier gas properties on particle transport in the human lung is investigated numerically in an imaging based airway model. The airway model consists of multi-detector row computed tomography (MDCT)-based upper and intra-thoracic central airways. The large-eddy simulation technique is adopted for simulation of transitional and turbulent flows. The image-registration-derived boundary condition is employed to match regional ventilation of the whole lung. Four different carrier gases of helium (He), a helium–oxygen mixture (He–O2), air, and a xenon–oxygen mixture (Xe–O2) are considered. A steady inspiratory flow rate of 342 mL/s is imposed at the mouthpiece inlet to mimic aerosol delivery on inspiration, resulting in the Reynolds number at the trachea of Re t  ≈ 190, 460, 1300, and 2800 for the respective gases of He, He–O2, air, and Xe–O2. Thus, the flow for the He case is laminar, transitional for He–O2, and turbulent for air and Xe–O2. The instantaneous and time-averaged flow fields and the laminar/transitional/turbulent characteristics resulting from the four gases are discussed. With increasing Re t , the high-speed jet formed at the glottal constriction is more dispersed around the peripheral region of the jet and its length becomes shorter. In the laminar flow the distribution of 2.5-μm particles in the central airways depends on the particle release location at the mouthpiece inlet, whereas in the turbulent flow the particles are well mixed before reaching the first bifurcation and their distribution is strongly correlated with regional ventilation.

Associate Editor John H. Linehan oversaw the review of this article.