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Modelling and Simulation in Engineering
Volume 2011, Article ID 510472, 9 pages
Research Article

Simulation of Pharyngeal Airway Interaction with Air Flow Using Low-Re Turbulence Model

School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, RMIT University, Bundoora, VIC 3083, Australia

Received 15 October 2010; Accepted 14 February 2011

Academic Editor: Guan Yeoh

Copyright © 2011 M. R. Rasani et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper aims to simulate the interaction between a simplified tongue replica with expiratory air flow considering the flow in the pharyngeal airway to be turbulent. A three-dimensional model with a low-Re SST turbulence model is adopted. An Arbitrary Eulerian-Lagrangian description for the fluid governing equation is coupled with the Lagrangian structural solver via a partitioned approach, allowing deformation of the fluid domain to be captured. Both the three-dimensional flow features and collapsibility of the tongue are presented. In addition, examining initial constriction height ranging from 0.8 mm to 11.0 mm and tongue replica modulus from 1.25 MPa to 2.25 MPa, the influence of both of these parameters on the flow rate and collapsibility of the tongue is also investigated and discussed. Numerical simulations confirm expected predisposition of apneic patients with narrower airway opening to flow obstruction and suggest much severe tongue collapsibility if the pharyngeal flow regime is turbulent compared to laminar.