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Nuclei population dynamics and cavitation


Liu, Zhenhuan (1995) Nuclei population dynamics and cavitation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/eq2r-9z75.


The effect of the nuclei population in water on cavitation has not been investigated thoroughly due to the difficulties of measuring the microbubbles in water. In this thesis, a Phase Doppler Anemometer (PDA) was calibrated by a holographic method and used to measure the micro-bubble distribution in water. Substantial agreement was achieved between the PDA and the holographic method. After the calibration, the PDA was used to study the nuclei population dynamics in two water tunnels. It was also employed in a study of cavitation on an axisymmetric Schiebe body in which the cavitation on the headform and the upstream nuclei population were simultaneously observed. Substantial changes in the nuclei number density distributions were found in these two water tunnels. The nuclei population in each water tunnel can also vary significantly, sometimes by as much as an order of magnitude. The nuclei population dynamics are complicated and are affected by the tunnel design, the tunnel operating condition and the air content. The cavitation event rate on the Schiebe headform is mainly determined by the cavitation number. It increases dramatically as the cavitation number is decreased. It also varies with the magnitude and the shape of the nuclei number distribution. As the upstream nuclei population increases, the cavitation event rate increases. During the experiments, cavitation acoustic emissions were also measured and analyzed. An analytical model based on the spherical bubble assumption and the Rayleigh-Plesset theory is developed to relate the free stream nuclei population to the cavitation event rate and the acoustic noise on an axisymmetric body. Complications, such as the effect of the boundary layer flow rate, of the bubble screening, of the bubble/bubble interactions and of the observable bubble size are examined and included in the model. The predicted cavitation event rate and acoustic impulse are compared with the experimental observations. It is shown that the predicted event rates agree with the observations when the population is small, but that increasing discrepancies occur at lower cavitation numbers when the bubble density becomes larger. The predicted noise qualitatively agrees with the observations, but is generally larger than the observations, mainly due to the fact that the spherical bubble assumption usually departs from the observed bubble shape.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Mechanical Engineering
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. (advisor)
  • Acosta, Allan J. (co-advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:14 November 1994
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Office of Naval ResearchN-00014-85-K-0397
Office of Naval ResearchN-00014-91-K-1295
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-10222007-152116
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:4217
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:23 Oct 2007
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 22:10

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