A review is made of progress in research during the period 1979–1989 on the fundamental physical mechanisms of hydrodynamic cavitation inception. During that decade identification of the physical phenomena has been made, and techniques have been developed to reproduce on laboratory scale selected forms of full scale cavitation inception. Understanding of the mechanisms remains shallow, and analytical/numerical prediction methods are nonexistent except for the restricted case of travelling bubble cavitation inception in a passive pressure field. The control of inception is seen to be related in part to control of the underlying viscous flow features. A growing body of experimental evidence points to microscale vortex cavitation as a primal inception event.

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