Uncertainty in aspiration efficiency estimates from torso simplifications in computational fluid dynamics simulations

Kimberly R. Anderson, T. Renée Anthony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has been used to report particle inhalability in low velocity freestreams, where realistic faces but simplified, truncated, and cylindrical human torsos were used. When compared to wind tunnel velocity studies, the truncated models were found to underestimate the air's upward velocity near the humans, raising questions about aspiration estimation. This work compares aspiration efficiencies for particles ranging from 7 to 116 m using three torso geometries: (i) a simplified truncated cylinder, (ii) a non-truncated cylinder, and (iii) an anthropometrically realistic humanoid body. The primary aim of this work is to (i) quantify the errors introduced by using a simplified geometry and (ii) determine the required level of detail to adequately represent a human form in CFD studies of aspiration efficiency. Fluid simulations used the standard k-epsilon turbulence models, with freestream velocities at 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 m s-1 and breathing velocities at 1.81 and 12.11 m s-1 to represent at-rest and heavy breathing rates, respectively. Laminar particle trajectory simulations were used to determine the upstream area, also known as the critical area, where particles would be inhaled. These areas were used to compute aspiration efficiencies for facing the wind. Significant differences were found in both vertical velocity estimates and the location of the critical area between the three models. However, differences in aspiration efficiencies between the three forms were <8.8% over all particle sizes, indicating that there is little difference in aspiration efficiency between torso models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-199
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Occupational Hygiene
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control (R01OH009290). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIOSH.


  • aerosols
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • dust sampling conventions
  • inhalable dust


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