Heat transfer and fluid flow analysis in a realistic 16-generation lung

AIP Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Physics of Fluids, 2022, 34, (6)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Heat transfer between inhaled hot/cool air and the lung surface within the human respiratory system is an intriguing topic that has not received enough attention. The lung can be considered an in vivo heat exchanger, balancing the inhaled air temperature by lowering the hot air temperature and increasing the cool air temperature. The current work studies the unsteady and incompressible airflow motion and heat transfer during inhalation between the surface of the lungs (37 °C) and the inhaled cool air (25 °C) in one case and inhaled hot air (43 °C) in another. Computerized tomography scan (CT-scan) images of the lung of a 39-year-old male patient were processed to generate the airway geometry consisting of 16 generations. The geometry was further modified in UG NX 12.0, and the mesh generation was carried out using Ansys Meshing. The shear stress transport (SST) k - ω turbulent model was employed in Ansys Fluent 20.2 to model the air/lung convective volume heat transfer utilizing a realistic breathing velocity profile. Temperature streamlines, lung volume temperatures, surface heat flux, and surface temperatures on all 16 generations were produced for both cases during the breathing cycle of 4.75 s. Several conclusions were made by studying and comparing the two cases. First, heat transfer between inhaled hot or cool air and the lung surface mainly occurred in the first few generations. Second, airflow temperature patterns are dependent on the inlet breathing velocity profile. Third, the lung volume temperature change directly correlates with the temperature difference between air and the lung surface. Finally, the surface heat flux strongly depended on the heat transfer coefficient. The density, viscosity, thermal conductivity, and specific heat of hot/cool air affected the Reynolds number, Nusselt number, heat transfer coefficient, and surface heat flux.
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