Cavitation has been a familiar phenomenon for a long time particularly in shipping. In 1917, the British physicist Lord Rayleigh was asked to investi- gate what caused fast-rotating ship propellers to erode so quickly. He discov- ered that the effect of cavitation, already proved in experiments by Reynolds in 1894, was the source of the problem. Despite numerous investigations into the subject of cavitation in the years that followed, many of the accompany- ing effects have still not yet been completely explained. This is no wonder considering the complexity of the process involving the areas of acoustics, hydrodynamics, thermodynamics, optics, plasma physics and chemistry. Cavitation can be caused in a fluid by energy input. For example, a laser beam creates a plasma in liquids which causes the liquid to evaporate creat- ing a cavity. Ultrasonic waves can be used to induce complex high-fre- quency alternating compression and rarefaction phases in liquids which cause cavitation. In this way, cavitation effects can be applied usefully for cleaning surfaces, for non-invasive operations in the field of medicine and for breaking down agglomerates in the textile finishing industry. In sewage treatment plants, cavitation is used to break down molecules and bacteria cell walls, break up pollutants and dissolve out minerals from organic mate- rial. Furthermore, cavitation can arise in hydrodynamic flows when the pressure drops. This effect is, however, regarded to be a destructive phenomenon for the most part. In addition to pump rotors, control valves are particularly ex- posed to this problem since the static pressure at the vena contracta even at moderate operating conditions can reach levels sufficient for cavitation to start occurring in liquids.
SAMSON (2003) Cavitation in Control Valves