The significance of respiratory droplet transmission in spreading respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 has been identified by researchers. Although one cough or sneeze generates a large number of respiratory droplets, they are usually infrequent. In comparison, speaking and singing generate fewer droplets, but occur much more often, highlighting their potential as a vector for airborne transmission. However, the flow dynamics of speech and the transmission of speech droplets have not been fully investigated. To shed light on this topic, two-dimensional geometries of a vocal tract for a labiodental fricative [f] were generated based on real-time MRI of a subject during pronouncing [f]. In these models, two different curvatures were considered for the tip tongue shape and the lower lip to highlight the effects of the articulator geometries on transmission dynamics. The commercial ANSYS-Fluent CFD software was used to solve the complex expiratory speech airflow trajectories. Simultaneously, the discrete phase model of the software was used to track submicron and large size respiratory droplets exhaled during [f] utterance. The simulations were performed for high, normal, and low lung pressures to explore the influence of loud, normal, and soft utterances, respectively, on the airflow dynamics. The presented results demonstrate the variability of the airflow and droplet propagation as a function of the vocal tract geometrical characteristics and loudness.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.