Billet, Michael L. Fluid Dynamics Department, Applied Research Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.
Hadler, Jacques B. Webb Institute of Naval Architecture, Glen Cove, New York.
Suslick, Kenneth S. Noyes Laboratory, School of Chemical Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Bernoulli's principle
- Cavitation number
- Physical causes
- Supercavitating propellers
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The formation of vapor- or gas-filled cavities in liquids. If understood in this broad sense, cavitation includes the familiar phenomenon of bubble formation when water is brought to a boil under constant pressure and the effervescence of champagne wines and carbonated soft drinks due to the diffusion of dissolved gases. In engineering terminology, the term cavitation is used in a narrower sense, namely, to describe the formation of vapor-filled cavities in the interior or on the solid boundaries created by a localized pressure reduction produced by the dynamic action of a liquid system without change in ambient temperature. Cavitation in the engineering sense is characterized by an explosive growth and occurs at suitable combinations of low pressure and high speed in pipelines; in hydraulic machines such as turbines, pumps, and propellers; on submerged hydrofoils; behind blunt submerged bodies; and in the cores of vortical structures. This type of cavitation has great practical significance because it restricts the speed at which hydraulic machines may be operated and, when severe, lowers efficiency, produces noise and vibrations, and causes rapid erosion of the boundary surfaces, even though these surfaces consist of concrete, cast iron, bronze, or other hard and normally durable material.
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