Abstract

Elongated particles, such as asbestos and mineral fibers, are considered severe inhalation hazards due to their ability to penetrate into the deep lung. Frequently the dynamic behavior of the fibrous particles is attributed to their unique needle-like geometry. Therefore, understanding the interactions of the inhaled elongated particles with the airflow environment is of great significance. In this study, the transport and deposition of elongated micro-fibers in a realistic human nasal cavity is investigated numerically. The motion of the micro-fiber is resolved by solving the system of equations governing its coupled translational and rotational motions. The governing equations included the drag, the hydrodynamic torques that were evaluated using the Jeffrey model. The influence of the shear lift force was also included in these simulations. The no-slip wall boundary condition for airflow in the airways was used. Since the surface of airways is covered with mucus, when a fiber touches the surface, it was assumed to be deposited with no rebound. The study allows a close look at the non-spherical particle-flow dynamics with respect to the translation, rotation, coupling, and how the rotation affects the particle’s macroscopic transport and deposition properties. A series of simulations for different microfiber diameters and aspect ratios were performed. The simulation results are compared with the existing experimental data, and earlier computational model predictions and good agreements were obtained. The present study also seeks to provide additional insight into the transport processes of microfibers in the upper respiratory tract.

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