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CET2011_Modelling of Microparticle Transport and Deposition

CET2011_Modelling of Microparticle Transport and Deposition

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Modelling of microparticle transport and depositionin respiratory airway via nasal inhalation
Kiao Inthavong, Qinjiang Ge, Jiyuan Tu
School of Aerospace Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering, RMIT UniversityBundoora, Australia
— Modelling of the respiratory airways has been limitedto local regions only such as the nasal cavity or the lung airways.This paper integrates the different respiratory organs from thenasal cavity through the pharynx, larynx, trachea, and the firstthree generations of the lung airways. Computational FluidDynamics (CFD) simulation of steady inhalation at 15L/min wasperformed on the model and a range of micron particles weretracked through the domain. It was found that particles largerthan 20µm deposit mainly in the nasal cavity and in fact a smallpercentage of particles reach the pharynx and larynx. The larynxregion was identified as a region that produces complex flowpatterns and enhances mixing of any particles that pass throughit. The deposition fraction and patterns within the upper andlower respiratory regions is presented which will help put intoperspective current deposition efficiencies reported for localrespiratory organ
 Keywords: micronparticle; respiratory airway; deposition; CFD
Numerical simulation through the use of ComputationalFluid Dynamics (CFD) is a powerful technique for particledeposition, transport and airflow pattern analysis andvisualization in the respiratory system. Recently there havebeen a number of simulations of aerosol dynamics in therespiratory system using CFD. This includes airflow patternsand particle deposition in the nasal cavity [1-3]; in the tracheaand larynx [4, 5], and in the tracheobronchial/lung airways [6,7]. These past studies among others in the literature havemainly focused on one region only of the respiratory system.By doing so the upstream flow conditions are often assumed byapplying a suitable boundary condition.The primary function of the respiratory system is gasexchange whereby oxygen from the external environment ispassed into bloodstream to replace the carbon dioxide which isexpelled during exhalation. The respiratory system can beseparated into regions based on the upper respiratory tract(consisting of the oral and nasal cavity, pharynx, and larynx)and the lower respiratory tract (trachea, bronchi, andbronchioles). The inhaled air passes through each of theconducting passageways, traversing through the highlycomplex geometry which exhibits many irregular shapes andsharp curves. Consequently complex airflow patterns areformed in the different regions of the airway. Furthermoreinhaled particles, whether they are pollutants found in thesurrounding environment or drug particles injected into theinhaled air, are transported by the airflow.It has been found that larger particles demonstrate highinertial properties which lead to deposition by impaction whenthe air flow streamlines curve and the particle no longer canfollow the stream pathlines [8]. However smaller particles haveless mass and hence lower inertial properties which allowsthese particles to behave similar to tracer-gases. Despite this asmall percentage of these particles will deposit in the nasalcavity. Because of the early deposition within the nasal cavity,the remaining deposition fraction will travel furtherdownstream. Determining this value can be valuable for CFDsimulations that focus on individual organs or components of respiratory system, since the fraction represents the likelihoodof further deposition of particles of a given size that has beeninhaled via the nasal cavity.This paper presents a study of the deposition of differentsize micron particles (1-50
m) under a steady laminar flow rateof 15L/min throughout the respiratory airway that extends fromthe nasal cavity through the conducting airways down to thefirst three generations of the tracheobronchial airway tree.Airflow patterns and velocity profiles are shown to highlightsome significant flow regions. Furthermore the depositionpatterns and fraction within the upper and lower respiratoryregions is presented which will help put into perspectivecurrent deposition efficiencies reported for local respiratoryorgans (e.g. trachea, lung airways).II.
 Model reconstruction from CT scans
CT scanning requires the use of x-rays and which meansionizing radiation exposure, which limits the scanning time.This means that current CT scan protocols will provide enoughscanned images for one region of the respiratory airway alone.This means that in order to retain the high resolution of the CTscans the respiratory airway model in this study was obtainedthrough three different sets of CT scans which representedthree different regions of the respiratory airway. Typically ascan protocol will involve 1-mm collimation, a 40-cm field of view, 120 kV peak and 200 mA producing 1-5mm thicknesswith voxel size of 0.625 x 0.625. Each set of scans producedDICOM images that were converted into 3D models andstitched together within the computer software
.ICEM-CFD (ANSYS Inc.) was used to create the datastructures and the mesh for it to be ready for ComputationalFluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis using Fluentv12.1. An initialmodel with 100,000 unstructured tetrahedral cells was initiallyused to solve the air flow field at a flow rate of 15L/min. The
model was then improved by cell adaptation techniques torefine the grid in order to achieve grid independence. The finalgrid consisted of 2.5 million cells which is shown in Figure 1.The meshing scheme used a hybrid mesh that included five-prismatic layers with inner tetrahedral core. It is noted that thenasal cavity used in this study is the same model that has beenapplied in earlier gas-particle studies within the nasal cavity bythe authors [8-11].
Figure 1. The nasal-respiratory airway model used in divided into threeregions for analysis of local deposition: i) nasal cavity; ii) pharynx and larynxand, iii) bronchial airway tree. Cross-sectional areas taken at the nasopharynxand hypopharynx are shown with the computational mesh.
 Numerical procedure
The commercial CFD code, Fluentv12.1 is used to simulatethe steady inhalation at 15L/min. The steady-state continuityand momentum equations for the gas phase (air) in Cartesiantensor notation can be cast as:
( )
u x
    
 jgig jig jgig j
 xu x x p xuu
ν  ρ 
(2)The equations were discretised with the QUICK schemewhile the pressure-velocity coupling was resolved through theSIMPLE method. For a low volume fraction of dispersed phase(particles), the Lagrangian approach with one-way coupling isused, i.e. the airflow transports the particles, but the effect of particle movements on the flow is neglected. In this approach,the airflow field is first simulated, and then the trajectories of individual particles are tracked by integrating a force balanceequation on the particle which can be written as:
 p p x pg p D p pgi
guudt du
 ρ  ρ  ρ  ρ 
)(24Reµ 18
 (3)where the first tem is the particle acceleration, the secondterm is the drag force [12], and the third term is the gravityterm taken at per unit particle mass. Additional forces such asSaffman's lift force, thermophoretic force, and Brownian forceare neglected for the micron sized particles. Particlerebounding from the surfaces was ignored and particledeposition was determined when the distance between theparticle centre and a surface was less than or equal to theparticle radius. The particle tracking is then terminated.Inhalation through the nasal cavity is induced through apressure difference between the nostril inlets (
= 0Pa) andthe nasopharynx outlet (
) that is set to a negative pressurerelative to atmospheric pressure that is caused by themovement of the diaphragm. Boundary conditions for theparticles are set up as a circular particle release entrained in theflow field. Particles were released from 0.01m from the inlet toprevent any spurious data exiting the inlet upon immediaterelease.III.
 Airflow patterns
Figure 3 shows the streamlines coloured by velocity as theypass through the respiratory airway. In general the averagevelocity is around 1-2m/s in regions where there are no suddenchanges in geometry. Peak velocities of up to 6m/s are found inthe larynx area. In this region the cross-sectional area reducesto a small diameter, leading an acceleration of the inhaled air.Just after the larynx, the airway suddenly expands producing apositive pressure gradient. The flow velocity decreasessignificantly and complex flow patterns arise as the flowstreamlines recover from the initial acceleration. This can beseen in Figure 2b which is a side view of the flow structureswithin the laryngeal region. It can be seen that the flow isdirected anteriorly, and flow separation occurs at the larynxexit. Posterior to the bulk flow a complex recirculating regionis found. This will have a significant effect on the transport of particles through this region.(a)
Figure 2. Flow streamlines in the (a) entire nasal-respiratory airway model.(b) Magnified side on view of flow streamlines passing through the larynx and(c) frontal view of the flow streamlines in the larynx.
Particle deposition patterns
The Lagrangian particle tracking model is verified bychecking the deposition efficiency in the nasal cavity regionwith existing data in the literature (Figure 3). It can be seen thatthe current model provides a similar general trend butunderpredicts the deposition. The recent work by Shroeter et al.[13] has shown that the discrepancy may be caused bydifferences in the surface smoothness of the computationalmodel.
Figure 3. Particle deposition efficiency vs Inertial parameter in the nasalcavity comparisons with other experimental data.
The deposition fraction in each region (nasal cavity;pharynx and larynx; tracheobronchial airways) in Figure 4shows that only particles
10µm persist deep into therespiratory airways from the pharynx and larynx region andfurther downstream. For all particles sizes tested, the highestregional deposition is found in the nasal cavity. However for10µm particles where the total deposition efficiency for theentire model reaches 42.3%, a majority of particles are found todeposit in the pharynx and larynx region.
micron particle (µm)
   D   e   p   o   s   i   t   i   o   n    f   r   a   c   t   i   o   n    (   %    )
Entire modelNasal cavityPharynx & LarynxTracheobronchial airway
Figure 4. Deposition fraction in the different regions of the respiratoryairway and also the entire respiratory model.
Visualisation of particle deposition patterns are performedfor two distinctly different particle sizes, (1
m and 20
m) interms of their inertial property. 1
m particles exhibit lowinertia which means that they are able to follow the flowstreamlines. This is evident in Figure 5a where the totaldeposition efficiency for the whole respiratory model is 7%.For the larger particle of 20µm there is a cluster of particlesthat deposit early, impacting at the roof immediately after thenostril opening (Figure 5b). Another cluster of particles arefound at the posterior end of the nasal cavity, and a third clusterdownstream just before the larynx. These locations appear inregions where the inhaled air changes direction as it istransported through the nasal cavity. For example, the flowbegins at the nostrils, vertically aligned.
Side View Frontal Viewa) 1µm particle deposition - Total deposition efficiency is 7%.Side View Frontal Viewb) 20µm particle deposition pattern. Total deposition efficiency is 99%.
Figure 5. Particle deposition patterns for (a) 1µm particle and (b) 20µmparticle for a flow rate of 15 L/min. Particles are coloured by velocitymagnitude [m/s].
The flow changes direction to a horizontal flow turningapproximately 90
. This occurs again at the posterior end of thenasal cavity where the flow changes from horizontal tovertically down as it enters the pharyngeal region. Finally justbefore the larynx, where the airway decreases in cross-sectionalarea, the flow is accelerated which enhances the inertialimpaction of the transported particle. The larynx is well knownfor its functionality in sound production which produced by thegeometry which changes dramatically by first decreasing incross sectional area, reaching a minimum before diverging andexpanding in its cross-sectional area. This is typical of aconverging-diverging nozzle which exhibits sharp pressuregradients, and rapid changes in velocities leading to complexflow patterns. Slice CC’ in Figure 6 is upstream to the larynx asthe flow is about to accelerate due to the converging geometrywhich shows the streamlines directed from the posterior C’ tothe anterior side C’ of the airway.
Figure 6. Velocity magnitude contours in [m/s] for slice CC’ superior orupstream to the larynx, and slice DD’ which is inferior or downstream of thelarynx.

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