Surge Instability on a Cavitating Propeller


This study details experiments investigating a previously unrecognized surge instability on a cavitating propeller in a water tunnel. The surge instability is explored through visual observation of the cavitation on the propeller blades and in the tip vortices. Similarities between the instability and previously documented cavitation phenomena are noted. Measurements of the radiated pressure are obtained, and the acoustic signature of the instability is identified. The magnitudes of the fluctuating pressures are very large, presumably capable of producing severe hull vibration on a ship. The origins of this instability are explored through separate investigation of the cavitation dynamics and the response of the water tunnel to volumetric displacement in the working section. Experiments are conducted to quantify the dynamics of the propeller cavitation. Finally, a model is developed for the complete system, incorporating both the cavitation and facility dynamics. The model predicts active system dynamics (linked to the mass flow gain factor familiar in the context of pump dynamics) and therefore potentially unstable behavior for two distinct frequency ranges, one of which appears to be responsible for the instability

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