The tip leakage vortex (TLV) cavitation mechanism of axial flow pump was investigated with the results of high speed photography and pressure pulsation measurement. The tip leakage vortex cavitation morphology and the transient characteristics of the TLV-induced suction-side-perpendicular cavitating vortices (SSPCV) were analyzed under different flow rates and different cavitation numbers which were combined with the time domain spectrum of pressure fluctuation to elucidate the relationship between the tip cavitation and pressure pulsation. The results showed that cavitation inception occurs earlier with more unstable tip leakage vortex cavitation shape under part-load flow rate condition, and the cavitation is more intense with the decrease of the cavitation number. The inception of SSPCV is attributed to the tail of the shedding cavitation cloud originally attached on the suction side (SS) surface of blade, moving toward the adjacent blade perpendicular to the suction surface, resulting in a flow blockage. With further decrease of pressure, the SSPCVs grow in size and strength, accompanied with a rapid degradation in performance of the pump. The cavitation images and the corresponding circumferential pressure distribution with the same phase showed that the lowest pressure coincides with the suction surface (SS) corner, The pressure was found to decrease along with the occurrence of the cavitation structure.

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