Loughborough University
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An optical investigation of cavitation phenomena in true-scale high-pressure diesel fuel injector nozzles

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posted on 2010-06-18, 07:48 authored by Benjamin A. Reid
Efforts to improve diesel fuel sprays have led to a significant increase in fuel injection pressures and a reduction in nozzle-hole diameters. Under these conditions, the likelihood for the internal nozzle flow to cavitate is increased, which potentially affects spray breakup and atomisation, but also increases the risk of causing cavitation damage to the injector. This thesis describes the study of cavitating flow phenomena in various single and multi-hole optical nozzle geometries. It includes the design and development of a high-pressure optical fuel injector test facility with which the cavitating flows were observed. Experiments were undertaken using real-scale optical diesel injector nozzles at fuel injection pressures up to 2050 bar, observing for the first time the characteristics of the internal nozzle-flow under realistic fuel injection conditions. High-speed video and high resolution photography, using laser illumination sources, were used to capture the cavitating flow in the nozzle-holes and sac volume of the optical nozzles, which contained holes ranging in size from 110 micrometers to 300 micrometers. Geometric cavitation in the nozzle-holes and string cavitation formation in the nozzle-holes and sac volume were both observed using transient and steady-state injection conditions; injecting into gaseous and liquid back pressures up to 150 bar. Results obtained have shown that cavitation strings observed at realistic fuel injection pressures exhibit the same physical characteristics as those observed at lower pressures. The formation of string cavitation was observed in the 300 micrometers multi-hole nozzle geometries, exhibiting a mutual dependence on nozzle flow-rate and the geometry of the nozzle-holes. Pressure changes, caused by localised turbulent perturbations in the sac volume and transient fuel injection characteristics, independently affected the geometric and string cavitation formation in each of the holes. String cavitation formation was shown to occur when free-stream vapour was entrained into the low pressure core of a sufficiently intense coherent vortex. Hole diameters less than or equal to 160 micrometers were found to suppress string cavitation formation, with this effect a result of the reduced nozzle flow rate and vortex intensity. Using different hole spacing geometries, it was demonstrated that the formation of cavitation strings in a particular geometry became independent of fuel injection and back pressure once a threshold pressure drop across the nozzle had been reached.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© Benjamin A. Reid

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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