Cavitation C vit ti

Dr. Hamdy m y Kandil
Concept of Cavitation
Cavitation means different things to different people:  Some say when a pump makes a rattling or knocking sound along with vibrations, it i cavitating. ith ib ti is it ti  Some call it slippage as the pump discharge pressure slips and flow becomes erratic erratic.  When cavitating, the pump not only fails to serve its basic p p purpose of pumping the liquid but also may experience internal f p mp g q m y p damage, leakage from the seal and casing, bearing failure, etc.

In summary, cavitation is an abnormal condition that can result in loss of production, equipment damage and worst of all, l ll personnel injury.
 The engineer s job is to quickly detect the signs of cavitation, engineer’s cavitation correctly identify the type and cause of the cavitation and eliminate it. A good understanding of the concept is the key to g g p y troubleshooting any cavitation related pumping problem.

 In the context of centrifugal pumps, the term cavitation

implies d n mi p impli a dynamic process of formation of bubbles in id th f f m ti n f b bbl inside the liquid, their growth and subsequent collapse as the liquid f flows through the p p g pump.

 Generally, the bubbles that form inside the liquid are of two types: Vapor bubbles or Gas bubbles.  Vapor bubbles are formed due to the vaporization of a process liquid that is being pumped. The cavitation condition induced by formation and collapse of vapor bubbles is commonly referred to as Vaporous Cavitation.  Gas bubbles are formed due to the presence of dissolved gases in the liquid that is being pumped (generally air but may be any gas in the system). The cavitation condition induced by the formation and collapse of gas b bbl is commonly referred to f ti d ll f bubbles i l f dt as Gaseous Cavitation.  Both types of bubbles are formed at a point inside the pump where the local static pressure is less than the vapor pressure of the liquid (vaporous cavitation) or saturation pressure of the gas (gaseous cavitation).

 Vaporous cavitation

 i the most common form of cavitation f is th t f f it ti found i process plants. d in l t Generally it occurs due to insufficiency of the available NPSH or internal recirculation phenomenon. p  It generally manifests itself in the form of reduced pump performance, excessive noise and vibrations and wear of pump parts. parts The extent of the cavitation damage can range from a relatively minor amount of pitting after years of service to catastrophic failure in a relatively short period of time.

 Gaseous cavitation

 occurs when any gas (most commonly air) enters a centrifugal pump along with liquid. A centrifugal pump can handle air in the range of 0.5 % by volume. If the amount of air is increased to 6%, the 6% th pump starts cavitating. t t it ti  It seldom causes damage to the impeller or casing. The main effect of gaseous cavitation is loss of capacity.  Let us first understand the mechanism of cavitation, i.e. how cavitation occurs. Unless otherwise specified, the term cavitation shall refer to vaporous cavitation cavitation.

Formation of bubbles inside the liquid being pumped.  J t like in a closed container. or the temperature of the liquid rises.52 psia). vaporization of the li id can occur Just lik i l d t i i ti f th liquid in centrifugal pumps when the local static pressure reduces below that of the vapor pressure of the liquid at the pumping temperature.  Th bubbles f m insid th liquid when it vaporises i ph s The b bbl s form inside the li id h n p is s i. the water quickly changes to a vapor. . But how does vaporization of the liquid occur during a pumping operation? g p p g p  Vaporization of any liquid inside a closed container can occur if either pressure on the liquid surface decreases such that it becomes equal to or less than the liquid vapor pressure at the l l h h l d h operating temperature. Step One. if water at room temperature (about 77 °F) is kept in a closed container and the system pressure is reduced to its vapor pressure (about 0.e. p p ( ) p  For example.Mechanism of Cavitation The phenomenon of cavitation is a stepwise process as shown in Figure 2. raising the vapor pressure such that it becomes equal to or greater than the operating pressure at the liquid surface. phase change from liquid to vapor.

h h d d d h 2.  The mechanism of pressure reduction in the external and internal suction system of a pump system.How does pressure reduction occur in a pump system?  Th reduction in local static pressure at any point inside th The d ti n l l st ti p ss t n p int insid the pump can occur under two conditions: 1. the pressure available at pump suction is not sufficiently high enough to overcome the design pressure drop inside the pump. 1 The actual pressure drop in the external suction system is greater than that considered during design. . As a result. The actual pressure drop inside the pump is greater than that considered during the pump design design.

 The pressure just before the pump.Pressure reduction in the external suction system of the pump  The pump takes suction from a vessel having a certain liquid level. at some point inside the pump the static pressure can reduce to the value of Pv. hms.  For now.hvap) is called the Net Positive Suction Head t or NPSH. we should focus only on how the static pressure within now the pump may be reduced to a value lower than that of the liquid vapor pressure pressure. Pv. .  Pressure reduction in the internal suction system of the pump  Th pressure of the fluid at the suction flange is f th The ss f th fl id t th s ti fl further reduced inside the internal suction system of the pump. is given by:  Hms = hs –( hlent+ hlf +hlm )– Vs2/2g ( h ) = hs – hls – Vs2/2g Notice that hs may be positive or negative as shown  As the liquid enters the pump. the head difference term corresponding to (hatm+hms+v2/2g . there is a further reduction in the static pressure.  In pumping terminology. The vessel can be pressurized or can be at atmospheric p pressure or under vacuum.  If the value of Pms is not sufficiently higher than the vapor pressure.

impeller detail Internal Pump Nomenclature .Flow path of fluid inside the pump The internal suction system is comprised of the pump’s suction nozzle and impeller. Figures 5 and 6 depict the internal parts in detail.

there is gradual reduction i th crosst i i th i d l d ti in the sectional area. the point of minimum radius (eye) with reference to pump centerline i referred to as the “eye” of f li is f d h “ ” f the impeller (Figure 8).e. .In Figure 7. In the impeller. it can be seen that the passage from the suction flange (point 2) to the i i fl ( i h impeller suction zone ll i (point 3) and to the impeller eye (point 4) acts like a venturi i.

 There is a further drop in pressure due to shock and turbulence as the liquid strikes and loads the edges of impeller vanes. Thi d i ll This decrease i pressure occurs not only due to the in l d h venturi effect but also due to the friction in the inlet passage. . of minimum cross-section. the velocity is at a maximum and the static pressure is at a minimum.How pressure reduction occurs as the fluid flows inside the pump? fl s  According to Bernoulli’s principle. when a constant amount of liquid moves through a path of decreasing cross-section area (as in a venturi). The pressure reduction profile within the pump is d i t d in Figure 9 i depicted i Fi 9. through the suction nozzle and into the impeller eye.  The gain in velocity occurs at the expense of pressure At the point pressure. The net effect of all the pressure drops is the creation of a very lowp p y pressure area around the impeller eye and at the beginning of the trailing edge of the impeller vanes. p  The pressure at the suction flange decreases as the liquid flows from the suction flange. the velocity increases and the static pressure decreases.

003 seconds. new Unless th n h n th p tin nditi ns n bubbles continue to form and old bubbles grow in size.  The bubbles then get carried in the liquid as it flows from the impeller eye to the impeller exit tip along the vane trailing edge. p g y g  Due to impeller rotating action.  Unl ss there is no change in the operating conditions.Figure 10: Impeller Cavitation Regions Step Two Growth of Bubbles Two. the bubbles attain very high velocity and eventually reach the regions of high pressure within the impeller where they start collapsing. .  Th life cycle of a bubble h been estimated to be in th order The lif l f b bbl has b ti t d t b i the d of 0.

 Bubbles collapse non-symmetrically such that the surrounding liquid li id rushes t fill the void f h to th id forming a liquid micro jet.Step Three Collapse of Bubbles Three.  As the vapor bubbles move along the impeller vanes. . The highly localized hammering effect can pit p g y g p the pump impeller.  Bubble collapse pressures greater than 1 GPa (145x106 psi) have been reported.  Hundreds of bubbles collapse at approximately the same point p pp y p on each impeller vane. the pressure around the bubbles begins to increase until a point is reached where the pressure on the outside of the bubble is greater than the pressure inside the bubble bubble. i li id i j t  The micro jet subsequently ruptures the bubble with such force that a hammering action occurs occurs. Collapse of a Vapor Bubble .  The bubble collapses.  The process is not an explosion but rather an implosion (inward bursting).

Formation and collapse of a bubble Formation and collapse of a bubble .

 A detailed description of the general symptoms is given as under.  The concept of mechanism can help in identifying the type of bubbles d the b bbl and th cause of their formation and collapse. After the bubble collapses. f th i f ti d ll General Symptoms of Cavitation and its Effects on P Eff Pump Performance and Pump Parts P f d P P  P Perceptible indi ti ns of th cavitation d in p mp operation ptibl indications f the it ti n during pump p ti n are more or less loud noises. th pump f f m d and th s it f their ll s the m faces s problems ranging from a partial loss in capacity and head to total f failure in p p g along with irreparable damages to the internal pumping g p g parts.  The implosion of bubbles and emanation of shock waves (red color) is shown in a small video clip available here. Fluctuations in flow and discharge pressure take place f g p p with a sudden and drastic reduction in head rise and pump capacity. the mechanism of cavitation is all about formation.  It requires a lot of experience and thorough investigation of effects of cavitation on pump parts to clearly identify the type ff f l l f h and root causes of cavitation. . vibrations and an unsteadily working p p pump. a shock wave emanates outward from the point of collapse. Depending upon the size and quantum of the bubbles formed d the severity of th i collapse.  In nutshell. growth and collapse of bubbles inside the liquid being pumped.  This shock wave is what we actually hear and what we call "cavitation".

For example.  Thus. referred to as break away producing a lower than expected head and flow away.700 times. The head developed diminishes drastically because energy has to be expended to increase the velocity of the liquid used to fill up the cavities. as the bubbles collapse. This symptom is common to all types of cavitations. The solid line curves represent a condition of adequate NPSHa whereas the dotted lines depict the condition of inadequate NPSHa i.  D Decrease in the head developed: i h h d d l d  Bubbles unlike liquid are compressible. ie cavitation . Figure 12 depicts the typical performance curves. p  The Hydraulic Standards Institute defines cavitation as condition of 3 % drop in head developed across the pump. example when water changes state from liquid to gas its volume increases by approximately 1. the condition of cavitation.e. Reduction in capacity of the pump:  The formation of bubbles causes a volume increase decreasing the space available for the liquid and thus diminish pumping capacity. flow. the hydraulic effect of a cavitating pump is that the pump performance drops off of its expected performance curve.  The unequal and uneven formation and collapse of bubbles causes q p fluctuations in the flow and the pumping of liquid occurs in spurts.

It has been estimated that during collapse of bubbles the pressures of the order of 104 bar develops develops. The disappearance of noise will be an indication of cavitation cavitation.  Similarly. crackling are ki kli used to describe the abnormal sounds. operate the pump with no flow. To distinguish between the noise due to a bad bearing or cavitation. k like li knocking. likely failure mode of a cavitating pump.  The sound of cavitation can be described as similar to small hard particles or gravel rapidly striking or bouncing off the interior parts of a pump or valve. and to the local shock p q p g wave that occurs as each bubble collapses. V i f l Various terms lik rattling. vibration is due to the uneven loading of the impeller as the mixture of vapor and liquid passes through it.  The excessive vibration caused by cavitation often subsequently causes a failure of the pump’s seal and/or bearings This is the most pump s bearings. Cavitation Sound .  People can easily mistake cavitation for a bad bearing in a pump motor.Abnormal sound and vibrations:  It is movement of bubbles with very high velocities from lowpressure area to a high-pressure area and subsequent collapse that h gh pressure creates shockwaves producing abnormal sounds and vibrations.

micrometers)  The damage caused due to action of bubble collapse is commonly referred as Cavitation erosion or pitting.Cavitation in a Globe Valve Damage to pump parts: o Cavitation erosion or pitting  D in cavitation.  The bubble is trying to collapse from all sides. The resulting long-term material damage begins to become visible by so called Pits ( l ll (see Fig 11). So the fluid comes in from the opposite side at this high velocity and bangs against the metal creating the impression that the metal was hit with a "ball pin hammer". but if the bubble is l lying against a piece of metal such as the impeller or volute it f l h h ll l cannot collapse from that side. particularly impellers. th collapse of the bubbles occurs at s ni During it ti n the ll ps f th b bbl s s t sonic speed ejecting destructive micro jets of extremely high velocity ( p (up to 1000 m/s) liquid strong enough to cause extreme erosion ) q g g of the pump parts. p g . which are plastic ) h h l deformations of very small dimensions (order of magnitude of micrometers).

holes in the impeller and damage the vanes to such a degree that the impeller becomes completely ineffective.  The cavitation erosion damages at the impeller are more or less spread out.  The most sensitive areas where cavitation erosion has been observed are the low-pressure sides of the impeller vanes near the inlet edge. and impeller tips etc. if the implosions have sufficient impact force.Fig 13: Photographic Evidence of Cavitation on Impeller and Diffuser Cavitation erosion or pitting  Cavitation erosion from bubble collapse occurs primarily by fatigue fracture due to repeated bubble implosions on the cavitating surface.  In some instances cavitation has been severe enough to wear instances. diffuser The itti h l b b d i ll diff vanes.  Th pitting has also been observed on impeller vanes. . force  The erosion or pitting effect is quite similar to sand blasting.

Fig 4 Fig14: Cavitation Damage on Impellers More Pictures .

 A careful investigation and diagnosis of point of the impeller erosion on impeller. This pressure implodes the vapor bubbles. When cavitation is less severe. changing the water’s state from vapor into liquid. diffuser etc. volute. yp  The extent of cavitation erosion or pitting depends on a number of factors like presence of foreign materials in the liquid. the damage can occur further down l h d f h d towards the eye of the impeller. can help predict the type and cause of cavitation. where damage is evident.C A V I T A T I O N Cavitation Damage on Impellers  Th damaged imp ll sh s that the shock waves occurred near The d m d impeller shows th t th sh k s dn the outside edge of the impeller.  This part of the impeller is where the pressure builds to its highest point. liquid temperature. age of equipment and velocity of th collapsing t t f i t d l it f the ll i bubble. .

replacements can be huge. Cavitation can be termed as “the heart short the attack of the pump”. .  Cavitation – h heart attack of the pump k f h  Thus fundamentally. bigger p mps longer pumps. components In short. this way even in case of slight cavitation it may lead to considerable damage to the materials. i l t  Breaking of impeller check-nuts.  Th t bearing damage f Thrust b i d from axial movement. cavitation refers to an abnormal condition inside the pump that arises during pump operation due to formation and subsequent collapse of vapor filled cavities or bubbles inside the liquid being pumped. l n duration of cavitation condition can result in unbalancing (due to un-equal distribution in bubble formation and collapse) of radial q f p ) f and axial thrusts on the impeller. S lf Seal faces d m s damage etc. impair performance and flow capacity. The rate of erosion may g f y be accentuated if the liquid itself has corrosive tendencies such as water with large amounts of dissolved oxygen to acids. The implosion of bubbles destroys existing protective layers making the metal surface permanently activated f th chemical attack. f h f  Bearing damage and rubs from radial vibration. Th s in s f p m n ntl ti t d for the h mi l tt k Thus.   Cavitation corrosion Frequently cavitation is combined with corrosion. This unbalancing often leads to following mechanical problems:  Bending and d fl d d deflection of shafts.Mechanical deformations Apart from Ap t f m erosion of p mp p ts in bi si n f pump parts. and damage the impeller and other sensitive components. t  These mechanical deformations can completely wreck the pump and require replacement of parts The cost of such parts. The condition of q gp p cavitation can obstruct the pump.

there is little that p p . Vs2 NPSH A H atm  H ms   H vap 2g NPSH A ( H atm  H vap )  H ss  hloss s .  U Usually a positive value of Hss i called a static suction h d while a ll iti l f H is ll d t ti ti head hil negative value is called static suction lift. used.Reduction of Cavitation Damage  Once the pump has been built and installed. the design should t k into account the most recent advances described i h ld take i t t th t t d d ib d in the literature.  The admission of a small amount of air into the pump suction tends to reduce cavitation noise This rarely is used however. there are y g p y q y objections to mixing air with the fluid pumped.  The required NPSHR must be determined by test and usually will be stated by the manufacturer manufacturer. Increasing the prevented available NPSH provides a margin of safety against the onset of cavitation.  Operation near the best efficiency point usually minimizes cavitation.  The available NPSHA at installation must be at least equal to the required NPSHR if cavitation is to be prevented. noise.  Consistent units must be chosen so that each term represents feet (or meters) of the fluid pumped. however because it is difficult to inject the right amount of air under varying head and capacity conditions and. For example: A change in the impeller material may be very beneficial as described below.  If a new impeller is required because of cavitation. can be done to reduce cavitation damage.  The table shows the relative resistance of several metals to cavitation pitting produced by magnetostriction vibration. Net Positive Suction Head  The net positive suction head (NPSH) is a statement of the minimum suction conditions required to prevent cavitation in a pump. frequently.

NPSHA Vs2 NPSH A H atm  H ms   H vap 2g NPSH A ( H atm  H vap )  H ss  hlosss = Hatm NPSHA Vs2 NPSH A H atm  H ms   H vap 2g NPSH A ( H atm  H vap )  H ss  hlosss .

) p p y ( ) 2.Use a larger size of pipe for the suction side (ds>dd) 3-Minimize the minor losses in the suction side: a. .If strainers are used they have to have very small p c.No valves in the suction side  Use a pump of small NPSHR (NPSHR < NPSHA) How to Avoid Cavitation?  The above equation may be also written as: q y H ms   H m  (hv  hatm ) Vs2 ( H ss  hls  )   H m  (hv  hatm ) 2g 2g  Where:  is the cavitation factor ( f (Thoma) which is a f m ) function of f the pump specific speed. b.Place the pump very close to the suction tank (Ls = min.. th above equation must be satisfied To id it ti the b ti tb ti fi d . no.How to Avoid Cavitation? NPSHA > NPSHR Vs2 NPSH A H atm  H ms   H vap 2g NPSH A ( H atm  H vap )  H ss  hllosss t  Increase Hss: Place the pump under the suction level p p  Decrease hlosss: 1.  hv is the vapor pressure of the liquid at working temperature in absolute pressure units l  hatm is the atmospheric pressure  T avoid cavitation.Min. or no bends.

Resistance of Materials to Cavitation Damage  It is seen that cast iron.  The test of the elastomers were even more resistant to cavitation damage than stellite which leads the list of metals in the table. has relatively little pitting resistance compared to bronze and stainless steel which are readily cast and finished. y f impellers. it damage is not suitable for ordinary use because of its comparatively high cost and the difficulty encountered in machining and grinding. should be considered if other methods of reducing cavitation damage cannot be used. the most commonly used material for .  El Elastomeric coatings have been found to be highly resistant to h f d h hl cavitation pitting.  Polyurethane and neoprene which show high resistance to cavitation pitting and may be applied in liquid form.Resistance of Materials to Cavitation Damage a Despite the high resistance of this material to cavitation damage.  The value of such coatings has been known for a long time but only recently has it appeared 'possible to secure an adequate bond between the coating and the metal. .

 Inducers can operate with varying degrees of cavitation since the g collapse of the vapor bubbles is distributed over a relatively large vane area area.  A suitable inducer-impeller combination can operate at about 50% of the NP H required f f h NPSH i d for the impeller alone at capacities not exceeding the normal value. Inducer  The hubless inducer ejects cavitation bubbles into a central vaneless core. the reduction in overall pump efficiency is not significant. The required NPSH can be provided by small booster pump. Although the efficiency of the inducer alone is low. placed ahead of the first-stage impeller. g The NPSH requirement increases rapidly for capacities above normal. d ll ff f  Since this type of inducer causes pre-rotation. p id d b a sm ll b st p mp called an inducer. .Inducers  It is sometimes difficult or impossible to provide the required p p q NPSH for an otherwise acceptable pump. y p g  The inducers contribute not more than 5% of the total pump head. . where they collapse without damage. f g p  The inducer blades are designed to operate with low NPSH and to provide enough head to meet the hh h NPSH requirements of the firststage impeller impeller. a careful match between inducer and suction impeller is required required. normal and so operation in this range should be avoided.

The immediate effect usually will be a drop in capacity and power. damage from cavitation caused by inadequate NPSH or recirculation in the impeller . This will be followed by loss of prime if more gas is present than the impeller can handle.Entrained Air  Air or other gases may enter the impeller inlet from several sources. Stuffing box air leakage may be prevented by lantern rings supplied with liquid from the pump discharge. Change the Operating Conditions!! 30 80 Efficiency 25 Close Valve 20 Original System 15 H 70 60 H1 H-2 system system H3 eff-1 eff-2 50 40 N1 10 30 N2<N1 5 20 10 0 0 10 20 Q 0 30 40 50 .  Air may be released from solution or enter through leaks in the suction piping. Change the Operating Conditions!!  Reduce the pump speed or partially close the delivery valve such that the pump will work at a flow rate lower than critical as shown. a vortex may form from the free surface to the impeller inlet. g pp q p p g  If the pump takes water from a sump with a free surface.  It is sometimes permissible to inject a small amount of air into the pump suction to reduce the noise .

NPSH Required Variation of NPSHA and NPSHR with flow through the system. .

Bubbles are forming to the left p gf f g f and imploding at the impeller’s surface in the upper right. The picture on the right shows the actual damage caused by continuous im l si of b bbl s i th s m area. ti s implosion f bubbles in the same The complete Story mp y . The one on the left shows a typical cavitation pattern during flow.The complete Story  Th t The two pictures on the left are of the same area of a pi t s n th l ft f th s m f centrifugal pump impeller.

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