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Keywords:

  • red blood cell;
  • spring-network model;
  • minimum energy concept;
  • simulation

SUMMARY

We developed a mechanical model of a red blood cell (RBC) that is capable of expressing its characteristic behaviors in shear flows. The RBC was modeled as a closed shell membrane consisting of spring networks in the framework of the energy minimum concept. The fluid forces acting on RBCs were modeled from Newton's viscosity law and the conservation of momentum. In a steady shear flow, the RBC model exhibited various behaviors, depending on the shear rate; it tumbled, tank-treaded, or both. The transition from tumbling to tank-treading occurred at a shear rate of 20 s − 1. The simulation of an RBC in steady and unsteady parallel shear flows (Couette flows) showed that the deformation parameters of the RBC were consistent with experimental results. The RBC in Poiseuille flow migrated radially towards the central axis of the flow channel. Axial migration became faster with an increase in the viscosity of the media, qualitatively consistent with experimental results. These results demonstrate that the proposed model satisfies the essential conditions for simulating RBC behavior in blood flow. Finally, a large-scale RBC flow simulation was implemented to show the capability of the proposed model for analyzing the mesoscopic nature of blood flow. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.