A Numerical Simulation of Inspiratory Airflow in Human Airways during Exercise at Sea Level and at High Altitude

Document Type: Research Paper


Department of Mathematics, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee -247667 (Uttarakhand) India


At high altitudes, the air pressure is much lower than it is at sea level and contains fewer oxygen molecules and less oxygen is taken in at each breath. This requires deeper and rapid breathing to get the same amount of oxygen into the blood stream compared to breathing in air at sea level. Exercises increase the oxygen demand and make breathing more difficult at high altitude. In this study, a numerical simulation of inspiratory airflow in a three-dimensional bifurcating human airways model (third to sixth generation) during exercise at sea level and at high altitude was performed. The computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver FLUENT was used to solve the governing equations for unsteady airflow in the model. Flow velocity, pressure, and wall shear stress were obtained from the simulations with the two breathing conditions. The result of this study quantitatively showed that performing exercise with a given work rate at high altitude increased inspiratory airflow velocity, pressure, and wall shear stress more than that at sea level in the airway model. The ranges of the airflow fields were also higher at high altitude than sea level. The simulation results showed that there were no significant differences in flowing pattern for the two breathing conditions.


Main Subjects

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