An extensive experimental investigation was carried out to examine tip-vortex induced cavitation on a ducted propulsor. The flowfield about a 3-bladed, ducted rotor operating in uniform inflow was measured in detail with three-dimensional LDV; cavitation inception was measured; and a correlated hydrophone/high-speed video system was used to identify and characterize the early, sub-visual cavitation events. Two geometrically-similar, ducted rotors were tested over a Reynolds number range from 1.4×106 to 9×106 in order to determine how the tip-vortex cavitation scales with Reynolds number. Analysis of the data shows that exponent for scaling tip-vortex cavitation with Reynolds number is smaller than for open rotors. It is shown that the parameters which are commonly accepted to control tip-vortex cavitation, vortex circulation and vortex core size, do not directly control cavitation inception on this ducted rotor. Rather it appears that cavitation is initiated by the stretching and deformation of secondary vortical structures resulting from the merger of the leakage and tip vortices.

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