Abstract

It is well known that cavitation breakdown, which is a phenomenon in which the pump head suddenly drops with a decrease in the inlet cavitation number, occurs in turbopumps. Especially in cryogenic pumps, cavitation breakdown occurs at a lower inlet cavitation number than that of ordinary fluids such as water. This phenomenon is referred to as a thermodynamic effect, as Stepanoff reported. The thermodynamic properties of the working fluid affect the sizes of cavitation elements, and the sizes affect cavitation breakdown; therefore, experimental flow visualization is an effective approach to realize a more efficient and more reliable cryogenic pump. In 2010, the author and colleagues developed the worldߣs first test facility to enable the visualization of cavitation on a rotating inducer in both cryogenic and ordinary fluids. At that time, only two reports on the flow visualization of a rotating cryogenic impeller had been published: one on flow visualization in liquid hydrogen by NASA in 1967 and the other in liquid nitrogen by JAXA in 2010. The present facility employs a triple-thread helical inducer with a diameter of 65.3 mm and a rotation rate of up to 8000 rpm with both liquid nitrogen and water available as working fluids. Unsteady visualization experiments for cavitation on an inducer in liquid nitrogen and water have revealed the characteristics of tip vortex cavitation, backflow vortex cavitation, and cavitation element size based on comparisons between cryogenic fluids that exhibit a stronger thermodynamic effect and ordinary fluids such as water.

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