3D030 - Flow and diffusion


Transport of nutrients, fuel, waste products and medicines - or: transport of material in general - plays an essential role in the maintenance and functioning of the human body.

The lecture course Flow and Diffusion aims at providing basic knowledge for understanding and modelling of material transport by flowing media (convective transport) and by diffusion (diffusion transport). Emphasis is given to the physical principles and the mathematical formulation of the transport processes.
In a brief introduction, the relevance of transport processes in physiological systems will be illustrated. Based on the conservation laws of mass and momentum for single-component systems, material transport in inviscid and in viscous flows will be discussed, with application to physiological systems. The theory of diffusive transport in free solutions and through non-biological membranes will be developed on the basis of the conservation laws for multi-component systems. The theoretical concepts will be illustrated by diffusion processes in biological membranes and tissue.

Learning objectives

The student learns about the mechanisms of tracer transport by advection (flow) and diffusion (molecular transport). Specific goals are:

  • to gain insight of transport mechanisms in terms of particle trajectories, streamlines, and streaklines;
  • to derive the appropriate equations of motion for specific situations (inviscid flows, boundary layers, viscously-dominate flows);
  • to determine (approximating) analytical solutions of these equations;
  • to model diffusive transport in one, two, and three dimensions, both for steady and unsteady cases.