Implementation of a specific boundary condition for a simplified symmetric single-path CFD lung model with OpenFOAM

Biomech Model Mechanobiol. 2019 Dec;18(6):1759-1771. doi: 10.1007/s10237-019-01174-w. Epub 2019 Jun 1.


CFD modeling research about the lung airflow with a complete resolution and an adequate accuracy at all scales requires a great amount of computational resources due to the vast number of necessary grid elements. As a result, a common practice is to conduct simplifications that allows to manage it with ordinary computational power. In this study, the implementation of a special boundary condition in order to develop a simplified single conductive lung airway model, which exactly represents the effect of the removed airways, is presented. The boundary condition is programmed in the open-source software OpenFOAM®, and the developed source code is presented in the proper syntax. After this description, modeling accuracy is evaluated under different flow rate conditions typical of human breathing processes, including both inspiration and expiration movements. Afterward, a validation process is conducted using results of a Weibel's model (0-4 generations) simulation for a medium flow rate of 50 L/min. Finally, a comparison against the proposed boundary condition implemented in the commercial code ANSYS Fluent is made, which highlights the benefits of using the free code toolbox. The specific contribution of this paper will be to show that OpenFOAM® developed model can perform even better than other commercial codes due to a precise implementation and coupling of the default solver with the in-house functions by virtue of the open-source nature of the code.

Keywords: Boundary condition; CFD; Human airways; OpenFOAM®; Single airway; Truncated branches.

MeSH terms

  • Hydrodynamics*
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pressure
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Software*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed