Research

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The CaFE project aims to develop and experimentally validate state-of-the-art computational model for cavitation erosion, addressing issues from the macroscopic flow development, which is of interest to engineering practice (industrial, biomedical etc) down to fundamental physics of bubble dynamics and material sciences.

What is cavitation erosion?

Understanding and controlling cavitation has been a major challenge in engineering for many years. Cavitation, described as the formation of vapour/gas bubbles of a flowing liquid in a region where the pressure of the liquid falls below its vapour pressure, often leads to vibration and damage of mechanical components, for example, bearings, fuel injectors, valves, propellers and rudders, impellers, pumps, hydro turbines and even mechanical heart valves. Cavitation erosion when experienced, normally leads to significant repair and maintenance costs, safety issue or component replacement. As in practice, efficient designs cavitate, most often the performance of the systems is sub-optimal because countermeasures are needed to prevent erosion. Despite the long-lasting problems associated with cavitation erosion, computational models that could simulate cavitation and identify locations of erosion are still not thoroughly developed due to lack of physical understanding.

How will the CaFE project help?

The research topics of the CaFE project can be divided into two major categories: experiments and simulations. The research conducted aims to:

  • Conduct new advanced quantitative experiments that will guide the development of computational models and serve as validation data
  • Develop models using computational fluid dynamics and material loss simulating cavitation. These range from Direct Numerical Simulations (DNS) of bubble dynamics up to engineering scales including Large Eddy Simulations (LES) and Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) models.

Once developed and validated, the computational tools will be applied to resolve the complex flow in a wide range of industrial application where cavitation and erosion can be realised. These include high pressure Diesel fuel injectors, high pressure pumps, hydraulic turbines, marine propellers and mechanical heart valves

From Theory to Praxis

CaFE aims to provide new experimental data and an open-source simulation tool for hydrodynamic cavitation and induced erosion. It represents a combined effort of model developments, experimental validation and application to industrial practice.

The key concept of the project that enables the theory to turn into praxis is collaboration: transnational, inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary.

13 of the researchers work on the development of computational tools and models and 3 ESRs are involved to experimental studies. The ESRs working on fundamental physics of bubble dynamics and erosion will develop models that will “feed” the rest of the WPs. The experimental ESRs will share common experimental techniques and equipment; the test rigs to be designed are portable and it is expected that measurements will be obtained in all laboratories.

All six non-academic participants will offer the opportunity to all researchers to have a secondment within their premises, therefore experiencing the life and working conditions in industrial R&D. During the secondment period, the ESR will be requested to apply the computational models developed as part of the programme to cases of industrial interest and thus, verify their applicability.

Three ESRs will be directly recruited by non-academic beneficiaries to work to their premises for 36 months each. These ESRs will assist the ESR to be seconded to there for a shorter period of time.