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Shear flow over a self-similar expanding pulmonary alveolus during rhythmical breathing

  • S. HABER (a1), J. P. BUTLER (a2), H. BRENNER (a3), I. EMANUEL (a1) and A. TSUDA (a2)...


Alternating shear flow over a self-similar, rhythmically expanding hemispherical depression is investigated. It provides a fluid-mechanical model for an alveolated respiratory unit, by means of which the effect of lung rhythmical expansion on gas mixing as well as aerosol dispersion and deposition can be studied. The flow is assumed to be very slow and governed by the quasi-steady linear Stokes equations. Consequently, superposition of the following two cases provides an easy route toward characterizing the aforementioned flow field. The first case treats the flow field that is generated by a rhythmically expanding spherical cap (the alveolus). The cap is attached at its rim to a circular opening in an expanding unbounded plane bounding a semi-infinite fluid region. The rate of expansion of the cap and the plane are chosen such as to maintain the system's configurational self-similarity. The second case addresses the flow disturbance that is generated by an alternating shear flow encountering a rigid hemispherical cavity in a plane bounding a semi-infinite fluid domain.

For the first case, a stream-function representation employing toroidal coordinates furnishes an analytical solution, whereas the second case was solved numerically by Pozrikidis (1994). Linear superposition of the two flow cases results in particularly rich streamline maps. In the symmetry plane (bisecting the cap and parallel to the mean shear flow), for a certain range of shear to expansion-rate ratios, the streamline maps are self-similar and display closed orbits and two internal stagnation points. One of the stagnation points is a ‘centre’ surrounded by closed streamlines whereas the other constitutes a ‘saddle point’. For other planes, no stagnation points exist in the field, but the streamlines associated with the saddle point display complex looping patterns. These unique flow structures, when subjected to a small perturbation (e.g. a small asynchrony between ductal and alveolar entering flows) cause highly complex stochastic particle trajectories even in the quasi-static Stokes alveolar flow. The observed irreversible flow phenomena in a rhythmically expanding alveolus may be partially responsible for the ‘stretch-and-fold’ flow mixing patterns found in our recent flow visualization studies performed in excised animal lung acini.


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Shear flow over a self-similar expanding pulmonary alveolus during rhythmical breathing

  • S. HABER (a1), J. P. BUTLER (a2), H. BRENNER (a3), I. EMANUEL (a1) and A. TSUDA (a2)...


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