Modelling and Measurement of Odour Transportation within the Human Nasal Cavity

J.W. Gardner, S. Nadarajan, and P. Kimber (UK)


Modelling, biomechanics, artificial olfaction


Human breathing behaviour varies from quiet breathing to forceful sniffing but can, in general, be modelled as turbulent airflow. Here an anatomically correct, 3-D model of the human nasal cavity has been created using 3D CAD software and manufactured using rapid prototyping technology. Firstly, the CAD model is used to simulate the flow of an odour through the nasal cavity using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). CFD is used to predict the velocity field within the adult nasal cavity by solving numerically the set of governing Navier Stokes equations. The effect of nasal cavity size upon the flow fields of sniffing was also investigated. Second, chemo-resistive odour sensors were implanted within the nares; superior, medial and inferior concha or turbinates; and nasopharynx of a 3-D model of the nasal cavity. These sensors were able to detect the concentration of an odour as it travels within the nasal cavity and at the olfactory mucosa (top of superior turbinate). Our experimental measurements agreed with the computer simulations and demonstrate that a small proportion of the odour is transported to the olfactory mucosa and that it is comparatively stagnant. We believe that by modelling the flow of odours within the human nasal cavity we will be able to design a superior generation of electronic noses for medical diagnostics.

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