The Fluid Dynamics of Human Respiration and Olfaction

Open Access
Dombrowski, Stephanie Marie
Area of Honors:
Mechanical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Zoubeida Ounaies, Honors Advisor
  • Brent Craven, Thesis Supervisor
  • CFD
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • respiration
  • olfaction
  • human
  • canine
  • inspiration
  • expiration
  • inhalation
  • exhalation
  • ARL
The objective of this study is to examine the fluid dynamics of human respiration using a standardized three-dimensional model of the human nasal cavity. A brief background of the anatomy of the human nose is given along with references to other animals. Next, a surface model of the human nose is utilized to generate high-fidelity computational mesh. The olfactory region of the airway is defined so airflow patterns in this area can be isolated. Assumptions and boundary conditions are specified for subsequent computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations. Using such techniques, simulations of inhalation and exhalation during respiration are compared. The results are analyzed and the effects of airflow patterns on olfaction are examined. Finally, the information gathered from this study regarding respiration and olfaction in humans is compared with other animals, thereby elucidating phenomena that may significantly contribute to mammalian olfactory acuity.