Please note a website outage is scheduled for Thursday 11 July from 6-8am. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Experimental and computational investigation of the trajectories of blood drops ejected from the nose


Blood expirated from the nose may leave a characteristic bloodstain at a crime scene which can provide important clues for reconstructing events during a violent assault. Little research has been done on the typical velocities, trajectories and size distribution that can be expected from expirated blood. An experimental fluid dynamics technique known as stereoscopic particle image velocimetry is used in this work to obtain the air velocity field inside and outside the nostrils during exhalation. A numerical model was then used to compute the trajectory of blood drops of 0.5 and 2 mm. The drops were tracked until ground plane impact below the nostril exit. Three heights were investigated, 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7 m. For an expiration flow rate of 32 l/min in vivo, there is a maximum exit velocity from the nostril of approximately 4 m/s, with a 0.5 m/s difference between nostrils. After the drops have traversed the distances investigated, drops of 0.5 and 2 mm in diameter from both nostrils are at a similar velocity. This implies that the gravitational acceleration after the drops leave the jet has the most influence on velocity. It is however shown that exit velocity does affect impact location. Drop size affects both impact location and impact velocity. An increase in height increases the distance traversed. Compared to the 2-mm drop, the 0.5 mm had a lower impact velocity, but its impact location in the ground plane was further from the nostril exit. Understanding the physics of expirated blood flight allows better interpretation of expirated stains at crime scenes.

view journal