Computational study of fluid motion for micro-gravity simulations

MSc graduation project of Sander Schot
Location: Lab. for Aero & Hydrodynamics
Supervisors: C. Leguy & M. Pourquie
Start of project: April 2010

Project description:

To understand the role of gravity in biological systems one may decrease it going into free-fall conditions such as available on various platforms (sounding rockets, manned or unmanned spacecraft). However, these experiments are cumbersome and expensive. Thus, alternative techniques, like Random Positioning Machines (RPM), are now widely used within the biological arena to simulate micro-gravity environment. These instruments generate random movements so that gravitational effects cancel out over time. However, comparative studies performed with the RPM machine were unable to reproduce the clear-cut space flight results. These differences may be explained by undesirable stresses acting on the cultured cells. They may be caused by internal flow motion, originating from the instationary motion during random rotation. The objective of this study is to predict and map fluid flow behavior and suspended particle motion in a RPM culture container in relation to its shape and movement. The means to achieve the desired objective include: (1) Develop further existing code. (2) Find suitable random motion function. (3) Post-process the simulation results. (4) Deduce from the obtained simulations what is the more suitable frame rotation pattern for microgravity simulations. (5) Finally, propose a new protocol for the Random Positioning Machine.

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