Cavitation - Cavitation Damage

Cavitation Damage

Cavitation is, in many cases, an undesirable occurrence. In devices such as propellers and pumps, cavitation causes a great deal of noise, damage to components, vibrations, and a loss of efficiency.

When the cavitation bubbles collapse, they force energetic liquid into very small volumes, thereby creating spots of high temperature and emitting shock waves, the latter of which are a source of noise. The noise created by cavitation is a particular problem for military submarines, as it increases the chances of being detected by passive sonar.

Although the collapse of a cavity is a relatively low-energy event, highly localized collapses can erode metals, such as steel, over time. The pitting caused by the collapse of cavities produces great wear on components and can dramatically shorten a propeller or pump's lifetime.

After a surface is initially affected by cavitation, it tends to erode at an accelerating pace. The cavitation pits increase the turbulence of the fluid flow and create crevices that act as nucleation sites for additional cavitation bubbles. The pits also increase the components' surface area and leave behind residual stresses. This makes the surface more prone to stress corrosion.

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