Design and characterization of a cough simulator

Bo Zhang, Chao Zhu, Zhiming Ji, Chao Hsin Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Expiratory droplets from human coughing have always been considered as potential carriers of pathogens, responsible for respiratory infectious disease transmission. To study the transmission of disease by human coughing, a transient repeatable cough simulator has been designed and built. Cough droplets are generated by different mechanisms, such as the breaking of mucus, condensation and high-speed atomization from different depths of the respiratory tract. These mechanisms in coughing produce droplets of different sizes, represented by a bimodal distribution of 'fine' and 'coarse' droplets. A cough simulator is hence designed to generate transient sprays with such bimodal characteristics. It consists of a pressurized gas tank, a nebulizer and an ejector, connected in series, which are controlled by computerized solenoid valves. The bimodal droplet size distribution is characterized for the coarse droplets and fine droplets, by fibrous collection and laser diffraction, respectively. The measured size distributions of coarse and fine droplets are reasonably represented by the Rosin-Rammler and log-normal distributions in probability density function, which leads to a bimodal distribution. To assess the hydrodynamic consequences of coughing including droplet vaporization and polydispersion, a Lagrangian model of droplet trajectories is established, with its ambient flow field predetermined from a computational fluid dynamics simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number016014
JournalJournal of Breath Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


  • CFD
  • cough
  • disease
  • experiment
  • parametric model
  • size distribution


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