The relationship between secondary flows and particle deposition patterns in airway bifurcations

W. Hofmann, I. Balásházy, T. Heistracher

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between localized fluid dynamics and localized particle deposition patterns within bronchial airway bifurcations upon inspiration and expiration was analyzed for different bifurcation geometries, flow conditions, and particle sizes. For the simulation of three-dimensional airflow patterns in airway bifurcation models, the Navier-Stokes and continuity equations were solved numerically by the finite volume Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) program package FIRE. Spatial particle deposition patterns were determined by the intersection of randomly selected particle trajectories with the surrounding wall surfaces. While three-dimensional flow patterns were characterized by their corresponding two-dimensional secondary flow fields, three-dimensional deposition patterns were represented by their related two-dimensional deposition density plots. Two particle sizes were selected to explore the relationship between secondary flows and localized particle deposition patterns: 0.01 μm, to illustrate the effects of Brownian motion, and 10 μm, to display the effects of impaction and sedimentation. Changes in bifurcation geometry (shape of bifurcation zone, branching angle) and flow conditions (flow rate, inlet flow profile, direction of flow) lead to variations in resulting secondary flow patterns, which were reflected by corresponding differences in related particle deposition patterns. In conclusion, a distinct relationship could be observed between secondary flow patterns and deposition density plots, demonstrating that particle deposition patterns in airway bifurcations are not only determined by physical forces acting upon individual particles, but also by convective transport processes of the carrier fluid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-968
Number of pages11
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Pollution

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