Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

First Advisor

Hooman Tafreshi


This study is aimed at developing modeling methodologies for simulating the flow of air and aerosol particles through fibrous filter media made up of micro- or nano-fibers. The study also deals with modeling particle deposition (due to Brownian diffusion, interception, and inertial impaction) and particle cake formation, on or inside fibrous filters. By computing the air flow field and the trajectory of airborne particles in 3-D virtual geometries that resemble the internal microstructure of fibrous filter media, pressure drop and collection efficiency of micro- or nano-fiber filters are simulated and compared with the available experimental studies. It was demonstrated that the simulations conducted in 3-D disordered fibrous domains, unlike previously reported 2-D cell-model simulations, do not need any empirical correction factors to closely predict experimental observations. This study also reports on the importance of fibers’ cross-sectional shape for filters operating in slip (nano-fiber filters) and no-slip (micro-fiber filters) flow regimes. In particular, it was found that the more streamlined the fiber geometry, the lower the fiber drag caused by a nanofiber relative to that generated by its micron-sized counterpart. This work also presents a methodology for simulating pressure drop and collection efficiency of a filter medium during instantaneous particle loading using the Fluent CFD code, enhanced by using a series of in-house subroutines. These subroutines are developed to allow one to track particles of different sizes, and simulate the formation of 2-D and 3-D dendrite particle deposits in the presence of aerodynamic slip on the surface of the fibers. The deposition of particles on a fiber and the previously deposited particles is made possible by developing additional subroutines, which mark the cells located at the deposition sites and modify their properties to so that they resemble solid or porous particles. Our unsteady-state simulations, in qualitative agreement with the experimental observations reported in the literature, predict the rate of increase of pressure drop and collection efficiency of a filter medium as a function of the mass of the loaded particles.


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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2011

Included in

Engineering Commons