A complete 3D particle tracking algorithm and its applications to the indoor airflow study

Pascal Henry Biwole, Wei Yan, Yanhui Zhang, Jean Jacques Roux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While most research on particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) is devoted either to 2D flows or to small-scale 3D flows, this paper describes a complete 3D PTV algorithm and some applications to indoor airflow velocity measurements. A particle detection procedure especially adapted to the physical characteristics of neutrally buoyant helium-filled soap bubbles is described. To recover longer trajectories, a temporal tracking algorithm is used based on polynomial regression and including a cross-gap and a forward-backward strategy. In order to increase the measurement area and the number of trajectories, the correspondence problem is addressed by a new procedure involving fundamental matrices from both a three and a two-camera arrangement. 3D reconstruction is done by a least-squares method. Some guidelines are given in terms of camera and light positioning for 3D PTV in large volumes. Applications of the algorithm include Lagrangian tracking in (i) a 3.1 m × 3.1 m × 2.5 m light-gray walled test-room; (ii) a 5.5 m × 3.7 m × 2.4 m black walled test-room; (iii) over a heat source; (iv) inside an experimental aircraft cabin. Results show that the algorithm is capable of tracking more than 1400 tracers in volumes up to 3 m × 3 m × 1.2 m.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115403
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2009


  • 3D particle tracking velocimetry
  • Air quality engineering
  • Airflow measurement
  • Helium-filled bubbles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics


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