Singular properties of flow separation as a real cause of cavitation inception

S. Washio, S. Takahashi, K. Uemura, T. Iwamoto, T. Ogata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


At the very beginning stage of cavitation an infinitesimal cavity suddenly emerges and rapidly grows on the wall close to the point of flow separation. The present paper intends to make clear the mechanism of this peculiar phenomenon previously discovered by the present authors in oil flows, by experimentally examining the characteristics of a separating flow. First, pressure and temperature distributions along a cylindrical smooth wall in an oil flow were measured across the point of separation, which has proved that both tensile stress and heat are really generated near the separation point. Second, a laminar air flow passing over a sharp edge was inspected by particle image velocimetry (PIV). The inspection of the separating flow based on the PIV data has revealed that fluid particle near the separation point is not only drastically stretched but also intensely sheared along the separation streamline. With all the results integrated, it has been concluded that the singular structure of a separating flow is the real cause of both tensile stress and heat generation. When thus generated tension exceeds a threshold, it possibly breaks the adhesion between the liquid and the wall, leaving a microscopic rift on the interface that would grow to a visible cavity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-678
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C: Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • Cavitation inception
  • Cavity generation
  • Flow separation
  • Heat generation
  • Point of separation
  • Separation streamline
  • Tensile stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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