What is cavitation and how can you prevent it?
Cavitation is the formation and implosion of vapor bubbles where the pressure of a liquid falls below its vapor pressure (at a given temperature).
Vaporization itself does not cause damage; damage happens when the vapor bubbles almost immediately collapse (“implode”) when the pressure is restored or increased. The implosion creates shocks waves that exert tremendous pressures on material surfaces—leading to pitting and erosion.
What causes cavitation?
Anything that reduces pressure in the flowing liquid below its vapor pressure at a given temperature. Conditions that contribute to cavitation include the following:
- High liquid temperature
- Highly viscous liquid
- Negative inlet pressure from...
- Restricted inlet piping/fittings
- Inadequate inlet supply; inadequate tank size
- Hard inlet plumbing
- Excessive number of elbows
- Long inlet lines to pump
- Incorrect sizing of inlet filters/clogged filters
- Air leaks or agitated fluid
Cavitation causes excessive wear and eventual component failure. It is NOT a good thing!
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