Respiratory deposition of fibers in the non-inertial regimedevelopment and application of a semi-analytical model

Sofie M. Högberg, Hans O. Åkerstedt, T. Staffan Lundström, Jonathan B. Freund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A semi-analytical model describing the motion of fibrous particles ranging from nano- to micro scale was developed, and some important differences in respiratory tract transport and deposition between fibrous particles of various sizes and shapes were elucidated. The aim of this work was to gain information regarding health risks associated with inhalation exposure to small fibers such as carbon nanotubes. The model, however, is general in the sense that it can be applied to arbitrary flows and geometries at small fiber Stokes and Reynolds numbers. Deposition due to gravitational settling, Brownian motion and interception was considered, and results were presented for steady, laminar, fully developed parabolic flow in straight airways. Regarding particle size, our model shows that decrease in particle size leads to reduced efficiency of sedimentation but increased intensity of Brownian diffusion, as expected. We studied the effects due to particle shape alone by varying the aspect ratios and diameters of the microfibers simultaneously, such that the effect of particle mass does not come into play. Our model suggests that deposition both due to gravitational settling and Brownian diffusion decreases with increased fiber aspect ratio. Regarding the combined effect of fiber size and shape, our results suggest that for particles with elongated shape the probability of reaching the vulnerable gas-exchange region in the deep lung is highest for particles with diameters in the size range 10-100 nm and lengths of several micrometers. Note that the popular multi-walled carbon nanotubes fall into this size-range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-860
Number of pages14
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Pollution


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