Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 447–469 | Cite as

Numerical investigation of inspiratory airflow in a realistic model of the human tracheobronchial airways and a comparison with experimental results

  • Jakub Elcner
  • Frantisek Lizal
  • Jan Jedelsky
  • Miroslav JichaEmail author
  • Michaela Chovancova
Original Paper


In this article, the results of numerical simulations using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and a comparison with experiments performed with phase Doppler anemometry are presented. The simulations and experiments were conducted in a realistic model of the human airways, which comprised the throat, trachea and tracheobronchial tree up to the fourth generation. A full inspiration/expiration breathing cycle was used with tidal volumes 0.5 and 1 L, which correspond to a sedentary regime and deep breath, respectively. The length of the entire breathing cycle was 4 s, with inspiration and expiration each lasting 2 s. As a boundary condition for the CFD simulations, experimentally obtained flow rate distribution in 10 terminal airways was used with zero pressure resistance at the throat inlet. CCM+ CFD code (Adapco) was used with an SST k-\(\upomega \) low-Reynolds Number RANS model. The total number of polyhedral control volumes was 2.6 million with a time step of 0.001 s. Comparisons were made at several points in eight cross sections selected according to experiments in the trachea and the left and right bronchi. The results agree well with experiments involving the oscillation (temporal relocation) of flow structures in the majority of the cross sections and individual local positions. Velocity field simulation in several cross sections shows a very unstable flow field, which originates in the tracheal laryngeal jet and propagates far downstream with the formation of separation zones in both left and right airways. The RANS simulation agrees with the experiments in almost all the cross sections and shows unstable local flow structures and a quantitatively acceptable solution for the time-averaged flow field.


Human lungs Realistic tracheobronchial airways Airway model Tracheobronchial tree Upper airways Oscillatory flow Waveform inspiration Numerical simulations Phase Doppler anemometry 



This work was supported by Project GA P105/11/1339 and funded by the Czech Science Foundation and Project LO1202 NETME CENTRE PLUS with financial support from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic under the “National Sustainability Programme I.” Frantisek Lizal and Michaela Chovancova were supported by Project CZ.1.07/2.3.00/30.0039 of Brno University of Technology.

Supplementary material

10237_2015_701_MOESM1_ESM.wmv (1.5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (wmv 1497 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jakub Elcner
    • 1
  • Frantisek Lizal
    • 1
  • Jan Jedelsky
    • 1
  • Miroslav Jicha
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michaela Chovancova
    • 1
  1. 1.Brno University of TechnologyBrnoCzech Republic

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