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Surge Instability on a Cavitating Propeller


Duttweiler, Mark Edward (2001) Surge Instability on a Cavitating Propeller. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/07RB-NX02.


The present study details results from experiments investigating a surge instability on a cavitating propeller. Initially, the stable behavior of the propeller is explored, and the nature and extent of the cavitation is documented at various experimental conditions, including propeller yaw. The cavitation surge instability is first explored through visual observation of the cavitation on the propeller blades and in the tip vortices. Particular note is made of similarities between the behavior of the re-entrant jets and that noted by other investigators. It is also observed that the nature of the instability is closely related to the partial cavity instability observed on single, two-dimensional hydrofoils.

The flow conditions that lead to instability are determined and it is shown that onset corresponds to a specific configuration of attached cavity lengths on an individual propeller blade. Pressure measurements are obtained from transducers within the experimental facility, and the acoustic signature of the instability is identified. The magnitude of the fluctuating pressures is very large, presumably capable of producing severe hull vibration. A simple model is developed based on cavity volume estimates obtained from high speed video footage, and the predictions of the model are compared with the experimentally obtained pressures.

To assess the significance of the surrounding facility in initiating and sustaining the instability, a model is developed for the experimental facility dynamics. The predictions of this model are then compared with an experimentally determined facility response to a volumetric excitation imposed by an oscillating piston. To quantify the response of the cavitation to fluctuations in test section conditions, quasistatic estimates are obtained for the cavitation compliance and mass flow gain factor of the propeller. These parameters have previously been employed in developing system transfer functions for cavitating pumps.

Finally, a model is developed for the complete system, incorporating both the cavitation and facility dynamics. The model predicts active system dynamics and therefore potentially unstable behavior for two distinct frequency ranges, and one such range is hypothesized to correspond to the observed instability. The ability of the model to predict the observed characteristics of the instability is then evaluated.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:cavitation, propeller, instability, cavitation compliance, mass flow gain factor, facility dynamics, impedance
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Brennen, Christopher E.
Thesis Committee:
  • Brennen, Christopher E. (chair)
  • Acosta, Allan J.
  • Raichlen, Fredric
  • Murray, Richard M.
  • Colonius, Tim
Defense Date:26 September 2000
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-03262007-112838
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:1143
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:26 Mar 2007
Last Modified:25 Oct 2023 23:22

Thesis Files

PDF (Duttweiler_me_2001.pdf) - Final Version
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