Previous research has identified a potential link between microgravity conditions and the onset of osteoporosis, a connection that stems from altered fluidic pathways crucial in nutrient dispersion and cell stimulation. Specifically, the absence of mechanical loading in space environments reduces fluid shear stress, thereby disrupting the normal flow of interstitial fluid in trabecular bone. This disruption greatly impacts the functionality of osteoblasts and osteoclasts, the vital cells responsible for maintaining healthy bones. The focus of this study aims to explore the impact of microgravity on bone loss in astronauts, establishing the connection between the lack of mechanical loading and the reduction of fluid shear stress. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques are used to analyze the behavior of the interstitial fluid in the trabecular bone and the transportation of nutrients in the trabecular system. Key parameters, such as permeability and wall shear stress were examined to understand their influence on nutrient distribution. Results indicate a considerable reduction in wall shear stress in both healthy and osteoporotic bones under microgravity conditions. Higher wall shear stresses are observed in healthy bones under normal gravitational conditions, solidifying the connection between cellular stimulation and the development of osteoporosis. Additionally, a Peclet number was computed using experimental data to simulate the characteristics of interstitial fluid, indicating a significant reliance on mechanically driven flow for nutrient dispersion. The current observations not only provide valuable insights into the physiological transformations astronauts undergo in space, but also highlight the potential of CFD techniques as a powerful tool for modeling complex fluid flow within trabecular bone, paving the way for diverse biological applications.


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Graduation Date





Kinzel, Michael


Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering (M.S.A.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Aerospace Engineering; Thermofluid Aerodynamic Systems


CFE0009691; DP0027798





Release Date

August 2023

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)