Flow visualization of cavitation



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Kansas State University


A typical refrigeration loop is composed of an evaporator, compressor, condenser, and an expansion valve. There are many possible refrigerants that can be used, but the physical properties of water make it ineffective in the traditional refrigeration loop. But if water could be used it would have many advantages as it is abundant, cheap, and is safe for the environment. This research focuses on a different kind of refrigeration loop using water. This new refrigeration loop utilizes water flowing through a nozzle, initiating cavitation. Cavitation is generally defined as creating vapor from liquid, not through adding heat, but by decreasing the pressure. In a converging/ diverging nozzle, as the cross sectional area is constricted, the velocity of the flow will increase, decreasing the pressure. Therefore, by flowing water through the nozzle it will cavitate. Transforming liquid into gas requires a certain amount of energy, defined as the latent heat. When a liquid is turned to vapor by an increase in the temperature, the latent heat is provided by the heat transfer to the system. As no energy is being added to the nozzle to cause the cavitation, the energy transfer to create the vapor comes from the remaining liquid, effectively causing a temperature drop. This research focused on the flow visualization of water cavitating as it travelled through a converging/ diverging nozzle. Under different flow conditions and different nozzle geometries, the cavitation manifested itself in different formations. When gasses were entrained in the water they formed bubbles, which acted as nucleation sites as they moved through the nozzle. This was called travelling bubble cavitation. In venturi nozzles the cavitation nucleated off of the wall, forming attached wall cavitation. When water flowed out of an orifice, a turbulent mixture of liquid and vapor, orifice jet, was formed which caused vapor to form around it. This was known as shear cavitation. When the water was rotated prior to the throat of an orifice, the orifice jet expanded radially and formed swirl cavitation. In addition to studying how the cavitation was formed, the void fraction and velocity were measured for attached wall cavitation.



Cavitation, Visualization

Graduation Month



Master of Science


Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

Major Professor

Mohammad H. Hosni