Cavitation effects in valves and other sudden transitions in water distribution systems are studied as their better understanding and quantification is needed for design and analysis purposes and for predicting and controlling their operation. Two dimensionless coefficients are used to characterize and verify local effects under cavitating flow conditions: the coefficient of local head losses and the minimum value of the cavitation number. In principle, both coefficients must be determined experimentally, but a semianalytical relationship between them is here proposed so that if one of them is known, its value can be used to estimate the corresponding value of the other one. This relationship is experimentally contrasted by measuring head losses and flow rates. It is also shown that cavitation number values, called cavitation limits, such as the critical cavitation limit, can be related in a simple but practical way with the mentioned minimum cavitation number and with a given pressure fluctuation level. Head losses under conditions of cavitation in sharp-edged orifices and valves are predicted for changes in upstream and downstream boundary conditions. An experimental determination of the coefficient of local head losses and the minimum value of the cavitation number is not dependent on the boundary conditions even if vapor cavity extends far enough to reach a downstream pressure tap. Also, the effects of cavitation and displacement of moving parts of valves on head losses can be split. A relatively simple formulation for local head losses including cavitation influence is presented. It can be incorporated to water distribution analysis models to improve their results when cavitation occurs. Likewise, it can also be used to elaborate information about validity limits of head losses in valves and other sudden transitions and to interpret the results of head loss tests.

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