An experimental investigation of cloud cavitation about a sphere
Brandner, PA and Walker, GJ and Niekamp, P and Anderson, B, An experimental investigation of cloud cavitation about a sphere, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 656, (August) pp. 147-176. ISSN 0022-1120 (2010) [Refereed Article]
Cloud cavitation occurrence about a sphere is investigated in a variable-pressure
water tunnel using low- and high-speed photography. The model sphere, 0.15 m
in diameter, was sting-mounted within a 0.6 m square test section and tested at a
constant Reynolds number of 1.5×106 with cavitation numbers varying between
0.36 and 1.0. High-speed photographic recordings were made at 6 kHz for several
cavitation numbers providing insight into cavity shedding and nucleation physics.
Shedding phenomena and frequency content were investigated by means of pixel
intensity time series data using wavelet analysis. Instantaneous cavity leading edge
location was investigated using image processing and edge detection.
The boundary layer at cavity separation is shown to be laminar for all cavitation
numbers, with Kelvin–Helmholtz instability and transition to turbulence in the
separated shear layer the main mechanism for cavity breakup and cloud formation
at high cavitation numbers. At intermediate cavitation numbers, cavity lengths allow
the development of re-entrant jet phenomena, providing a mechanism for shedding
of large-scale K´arm´ an-type vortices similar to those for low-mode shedding in singlephase
subcritical flow. This shedding mode, which exists at supercritical Reynolds
numbers for single-phase flow, is eliminated at low cavitation numbers with the onset
Complex interactions between the separating laminar boundary layer and the
cavity were observed. In all cases the cavity leading edge was structured in laminar
cells separated by well-known ‘divots’. The initial laminar length and divot density
were modulated by the unsteady cavity shedding process. At cavitation numbers
where shedding was most energetic, with large portions of leading edge extinction,
re-nucleation was seen to be circumferentially periodic and to consist of stretched
streak-like bubbles that subsequently became fleck-like. This process appeared to
be associated with laminar–turbulent transition of the attached boundary layer.
Nucleation occurred periodically in time at these preferred sites and formed the
characteristic cavity leading edge structure after sufficient accumulation of vapour
had occurred. These observations suggest that three-dimensional instability of the decelerating boundary layer flow may have significantly influenced the developing
structure of the cavity leading edge.