Cavitation erosion prediction based on analysis of flow dynamics and impact load spectra

Michael S. Mihatsch, Steffen J. Schmidt, Nikolaus A. Adams

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70 Scopus citations


Cavitation erosion is the consequence of repeated collapse-induced high pressureloads on a material surface. The present paper assesses the prediction of impact load spectra of cavitating flows, i.e., the rate and intensity distribution of collapse events based on a detailed analysis of flow dynamics. Data are obtained from a numerical simulation which employs a density-based finite volume method, taking into account the compressibility of both phases, and resolves collapse-induced pressure waves. To determine the spectrum of collapse events in the fluid domain, we detect and quantify the collapse of isolated vapor structures. As reference configuration we consider the expansion of a liquid into a radially divergent gap which exhibits unsteady sheet and cloud cavitation. Analysis of simulation data shows that global cavitation dynamics and dominant flow events are well resolved, even though the spatial resolution is too coarse to resolve individual vapor bubbles. The inviscid flow model recovers increasingly fine-scale vapor structures and collapses with increasing resolution. We demonstrate that frequency and intensity of these collapse events scale with grid resolution. Scaling laws based on two reference lengths are introduced for this purpose. We show that upon applying these laws impact load spectra recorded on experimental and numerical pressure sensors agree with each other. Furthermore, correlation between experimental pitting rates and collapse-event rates is found. Locations of high maximum wall pressures and high densities of collapse events near walls obtained numerically agree well with areas of erosion damage in the experiment. The investigation shows that impact load spectra of cavitating flows can be inferred from flow data that captures the main vapor structures and wave dynamics without the need for resolving all flow scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103302
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2015


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