Unsteady cavitation phenomena such as rotating cavitation and cavitation surge are often observed in a turbopump inducer of a rocket engine, sometimes causing undesirable oscillation of the system. Investigation of their mechanism and prediction of such unsteady phenomena are, therefore, crucial in the design of inducers. As many experiments have shown, the appearance of cavitation instability is highly related to the flow rate as well as to the inlet casing geometry. Experimental observations have shown that a very complex flow structure, including such phenomena as backflow and vortices, appears upstream of the inducer. In this work, therefore, we conducted 3D unsteady computational fluid dynamics simulations of noncavitating flow in a turbopump inducer, mainly focusing on the vortex structure, for three types of inlet casing geometry with various flow rates. Simulation results showed that the vortex structure for the geometry of the inlet casing and that for the flow rate differed. Especially, it was found that development of the tip leakage vortex was dependent on the inlet casing geometry and the flow rate. This tendency is analogous to that observed between the appearance of rotating cavitation and the casing geometry and flow rate in cavitation tunnel tests. This result strongly implies that the tip leakage vortex is responsible for the appearance of rotating cavitation. By adding a gutter to the inlet casing, it was found that backflow was completely confined to the gutter regardless of flow rates. This numerical result implies that the volume of cavity generated in the backflow region should be stable despite a change of the flow rate, resulting in the suppression of increase of the mass flow gain factor. This result also supports the experimental result that cavitation surge was effectively suppressed using such a casing with a gutter.
Numerical Simulation for Vortex Structure in a Turbopump Inducer: Close Relationship With Appearance of Cavitation Instabilities
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Kimura, T., Yoshida, Y., Hashimoto, T., and Shimagaki, M. (May 5, 2008). "Numerical Simulation for Vortex Structure in a Turbopump Inducer: Close Relationship With Appearance of Cavitation Instabilities." ASME. J. Fluids Eng. May 2008; 130(5): 051104. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2911678
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