Cavitation Review Centrifugal Pump

Fluid Flow Table of Contents
Hydraulic and Pneumatic Knowledge

Fluid Power Equipment

Cavitation Review Centrifugal Pump

When the liquid being pumped enters the eye of a centrifugal pump, the pressure is significantly reduced. The greater the flow velocity through the pump the greater this pressure drop. If the pressure drop is great enough, or if the temperature of the liquid is high enough, the pressure drop may be sufficient to cause the liquid to flash to steam when the local pressure falls below the saturation pressure for the fluid that is being pumped. These vapor bubbles are swept along the pump impeller with the fluid. As the flow velocity decreases the fluid pressure increases. This causes the vapor bubbles to suddenly collapse on the outer portions of the impeller. The formation of these vapor bubbles and their subsequent collapse is cavitation.

Cavitation can be a very serious problem for centrifugal pumps. Some pumps can be designed to operate with limited amounts of cavitation. Most centrifugal pumps cannot withstand cavitation for significant periods of time; they are damaged by erosion of the impeller, vibration, or some other cavitation-induced problem.