Heat and water transport processes in the respiratory tract depend on environmental conditions, breathing patterns, and the physiological state of the respiratory system. To study these processes, we have developed a mathematical model of the dynamics of temperature and water vapor in the radial and axial directions of an idealized trachea. The model is expressed as two implicit finite-difference equations and solved using an alternating-direction algorithm. Using these equations, we simulated the effects of inspired gas temperature and humidity, velocity profile, and flow rate on heat and water transport between the gas and airway wall. Under inspired gas conditions of low temperature or high relative humidity, supersaturation occurs. Increasing either the velocity gradient at the wall or the flow rate increases the heat and water transport rates. However, these rates change by only 10 percent when the velocity gradient is doubled, and by about 35 percent when flow rate undergoes a two-fold change. The model can be used with in-vivo data from the trachea to test hypotheses concerning normal and abnormal heat and water transport.

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