Abstract

Cavitation dynamics continue to pose a significant risk in the development and operation of launch vehicle (LV) propulsion systems. In addition to generating unsteady loads that can directly damage turbopump hardware, cavitation dynamics often couple with LV fluid feed systems, producing system wide POGO instability that can cause catastrophic failures. Despite its importance, the current understanding of cavitation dynamics, and especially pump transfer matrices, is limited. Given the relatively sparse amount of inducer transfer matrix data available, there is a critical need for more in-depth characterization of the cavitation dynamics in turbopump inducers to avoid POGO instability. This paper defines and validates a new reduced-order approach to infer key parameters such as cavitation compliance, K, and mass flow gain factor, M, from simple, single sensor unsteady pressure measurements during inducer inlet pressure ramps. The utility of this approach is demonstrated for a range of inducer geometries reported in the literature. The results are in agreement with experimental data and the paper provides a new capability supporting the assessment of launch vehicle POGO instability.

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