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31stSymposium on Naval Hydrodynamics

Monterey, California, 11-16 September 2016

Probing into Physics of Ventilation Demand for

Supercavitating Underwater Vehicles
A. Karn1, 2, R.Huang3,S.Shao1,R.E. A.Arndt1, and J. Hong1,*
(1St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA
Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering Roorkee,Uttarakhand, India
Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)

ABSTRACT high speeds. To avoid the consequent problems with

operation at such high speeds such as surface
Ventilated supercavitation is a promising approach to damage, buffeting, vibrations etc. and to ensure
achieve significant reduction of drag for high speed greater adaptability for vehicle maneuvering and
underwater transportation. The ventilation demand control, ventilation is usually used to form a
required for the formation and sustenance of the supercavity artificially, by blowing non-condensable
supercavity under different flow conditions is one of gas into the low-pressure region at the rear part of
the key questions in the design of underwater asharp edged object (cavitator) placed at the front of
vehicles based on ventilated supercavitation, which vehicle body.The physical parameters involved are
can be strongly affected by physical phenomena incoming velocity (U), ventilation flow rate ( ),
related to liquid gas interactions including, ambient pressure ( ), cavity pressure (PC)
particularly, the closure mechanism of a supercavity. andcavitator diameter ( ). These parameters are
Despite extensive research on ventilated commonly expressed using these dimensionless
supercavitation, there is still no general consensus on
groups: Froude number, / , air
the ventilation demand and the criteria governing
entrainment coefficient, CQ / , cavitation
closure mechanisms. This paper summarizes a series
number, / 1⁄2 etc., where
of our recent studies on ventilated supercavitation,
focusing on providing physical insights into the and denote gravitational acceleration and water
density, respectively.
closure mechanism of a supercavity and its
connection with the ventilation requirement for the A typical operational strategy of a
formation and sustenance of supercavitation. supercavitating vehicle entails accelerating the
vehicle to a high speed at which a natural supercavity
can be sustained. The drag reduction required to
attain high speeds at the initial launch of the vehicle
INTRODUCTION is achieved by ventilated supercavitation. The
High speed underwater vehicles experience a determination of the gas storage requirements for a
tremendous amount of flow resistance when moving ventilated supercavitating vehicle requires
underwater due to skin friction. Supercavitationis information on gas supply rate to form and sustain a
employed as a drag reduction technique for steady supercavity at different flow conditions.
underwater vehicles, whereby a bubble of gas/vapor However, efficient operation of a ventilated
is developed that is large enough to encompass an supercavitating vehicle requires it to be optimally
object (or vehicle) travelling through the ventilated in case of maneuvering etc. to circumvent
water.Thenatural formation of a supercavity through the possibility of cavity collapse at different stages of
cavitation usually requires the attainment of very vehicle operation.Thus, it is important to understand


the gas entrainment behaviors relating to supercavity physical insights into the factors that govern
formation and sustenance. ventilation demand such as closure mechanisms, and
bubble breakup and coalescence processes.In
Further, the ventilation demand to sustain a
particular,the fundamental physics of ventilation
supercavity is largely determined by the specific
process is studied with respect to internal flows of a
features of flow patterns in the cavity sealing zone,
supercavity and its relationship with supercavity
commonly referred to as closure mechanism
closures. These findings can provide useful physical
(Logvinovich 1973). Although a variety of
basis for the design of ventilation systems for high-
supercavity closure modes have been identified and
speed underwater vehicles.
studied separately, but there is no universally
accepted theory on the relationship between closure
mechanism and ventilation demand yet (Karn et al.
2016a). To accurately estimate gas requirements for APPROACH
underwater applications using supercavitation, it
would be profitable to systematically study the The experiments reported in this paper are conducted
closure mechanism under different flow conditions at high-speed cavitation tunnel at the Saint Anthony
and understand the fundamental physics that governs Falls Laboratory (SAFL). The test-section of the
supercavity closures.Although there have been a water tunnel is 1 m long with a square cross section
number of previous studies on the gas loss from of 0.19 m × 0.19 m (i.e. 0.21 m in hydraulic
ventilated supercavities (Epshtein 1973, Logvinovich diameter) as shown in Figure 1a. It is a recirculating
1973, Spurk 2002), fundamental understanding of facility with capabilities of absolute pressure
supercavity closures is still lacking as demonstrated regulation. The two bottom and the two side walls of
by a significant lack of concurrence on the empirical the test-section are made of Plexiglass for optical
formulations and physical phenomena derived from access. The tunnel is specifically designed for air
different studies (e.g. Campbell and Hilborne 1958, ventilation studies and is capable of operating at a
Kawakami and Arndt 2011, Skidmore et al. velocity in excess of 20 m/s. The facility has the
2015).The observed discrepancies from the above- capability of fast removal of air bubbles generated
mentioned studies in predicting the supercavity during ventilation experiments,allowing the
closure mode can be attributed to several factors, e.g. ventilation experiments to be conducted for extended
the nature of experimental facility (e.g. towing tank, periods with little effect on test-section conditions.
closed-wall tunnel vs free surface facility, etc.), Backward-facing model (BFM) is employed in all the
tunnel blockage (defined in terms of percentage as reported experiments in this paper (Figure 1b and 1c).
/ , where is the tunnel equivalent Systematic experiments are performed over a wide
diameter) etc., but the exact influence of these range of ventilation rates and water tunnel speed.
parameters on supercavitation phenomena is not Under each set of experimental conditions, the
understood fundamentally. Thus, to accurately formation process, the geometric characteristics (i.e.
predict ventilation requirements, a fundamental maximum diameter, half length) and closure pattern
understanding of the physical processes affecting of the supercavity are captured using high speed
ventilation demand is urgently needed. A series of imaging. The measurements of formation and
our recent studies have systematically examined the sustenance air entrainmentsare repeated for each
variation of closure mechanism under different fixed value of Fr.
steady (Karn et al. 2016a) and unsteady flow Two separate Validyne AP-10 pressure
conditions (Karn et al. 2015), as well the minimum transducers are employed to measure the pressures in
ventilation demand for formation and sustenance of the test-section and the supercavity, respectively. A
supercavity (Karn et al. 2016b). This paper provides Validyne DP-10 differential pressure transducer is
a summary of our recent work on supercavity closure used to measure the differential pressure between the
modes, and formation and sustenance process of a settling chamber and test-section, and applied further
supercavity using both experiments and numerical to calculate water velocity in the test-section. Before
simulations. These studies provide fundamental the pressure measurements are recorded at each


condition, the pressure lines are purged with coefficient at standard conditions is defined as:
compressed air and pressure transducers are CQs / , where represents the air
calibrated. The calibrations are performed using a ventilation flow rate at standard conditions read
mercury manometer for both transducers, ensuring directly from the mass flow controller. It is worth
that calibrations are linear, with R-squared values noting that in the reported studies, the mass flow rate
typically 0.9999 or higher for both transducers. (or volume flow rate at standard conditions) is
Standard errors of the pressure calibrations are employed instead of the volume flow rate
approximately 0.1 kPa for both absolute pressure conventionally used in the literature. This quantity is
transducers, corresponding to a maximum velocity chosen purposely to accentuate ventilation
measurement error of 0.11 m/s and a mean error of requirement corresponding to each specific type of
around 0.02 m/s. The air ventilation flow rate to the closure. A consortium of information on supercavity
cavity is controlled and measured by Omega morphology, gas leakage, internal flow and pressure
Engineering FMA-2609A mass flow controller. In distribution provides basis for attaining a full picture
the reported experiments, air flux is evaluated at the of supercavitation physics with a level of detail that
standard conditions (i.e. a temperature of 273 K and a has not been previously reported.
pressure of 1 bar) in terms of standard liters per
minutes (SLPM). The corresponding air entrainment

Figure 1:(a) The experimental facility. (b) A schematic of the backward-facing cavitator model. (c) A close-up view
of the cavitator. All dimensions are in mm.



Figure 2:(a) Array of closure mechanisms, and (b)Fr – CQsclosure map for a cavitatorwithB = 9 %. Red dotted line
shows the critical ventilation rateand two data points marked by red arrow were used for validation of computational
simulations (Figures adapted from Karn et al. 2016a).

We conducted a systematic investigation into obtained by holding Fr constant and lowering CQs
supercavity closure and its variation over a wide from 10 to 0.001. In this closure map, a movement
range of Fr, CQs, and cavitator sizes using backward along the x-axis corresponds to a fixed Fr (or
facing cavitator model (Karn et al 2016a). The study constant water velocity) and increasing CQs,while the
revealed a rich assembly of different closure modes slanted curves denote the lines of fixed ventilation
including several modes that have not been reported flow rates.
in the literature (Figure 2a). In general, four stable
The closure map shows several distinctive
states of a ventilated supercavityareobserved, which
features viz. critical ventilation rate, path selectivity
include three stable closure modes (i.e. RJ, TV, QV),
and ventilation hysteresis, which provide critical
and foamy cavity (FC). The FC refers to the state
insights into the supercavitation physics. As shown in
before the clear supercavity is formed, when the
Figure 2b, a critical ventilation flow rate (indicated
cavity consists of bubbles and foam without a clear
by the dashed in the figure)isobserved, which
gas-water interface (Savchenko 2001). In addition, as
determines the transition from the supercavity state to
shown in Figure 2a, five unstable closure modes are
the foamy cavity state. When the ventilation rate is
discovered in our experiments, i.e., hybrid quad
above this critical value, the supercavitydoes not
vortex and re-entrant jet closure (QVRJ), hybrid twin
transition to a foamy cavity as Fr isreduced gradually
vortex and quad vortex closure (TVQV), hybrid twin
even to very small values. However, below this
vortex and re-entrant jet closure (TVRJ), a pulsating
critical ventilation rate, the supercavitycollapsesinto a
twin vortex closure (PTV) and an interacting vortex
foamy cavity as Frisdecreased. Further, it is
closure (IV). The trends of these closure modes and
discovered that the curves for critical air entrainment
the transitions between them are studied by varying
curves for different blockage ratios collapse onto a
the ventilation rate and the liquid flow velocity. Our
single curve, indicating that it is related to the
studies show that the closure mode is strongly
fundamental physics of the supercavity rather than
dependent upon thenon-dimensional parameters Fr
the size of the cavitator or the blockage.
and CQs. Figure 2b shows a closure map that was


Path-selectivity, another notable feature in to a foamy cavity through hybrid modes, while at
the obtained closure map refers to the fact that RJ lower Fr, other stable closure modes are also
closure cannot be obtained from an initial FC state by observed in the process. This fact is also corroborated
the adjustment of ventilation rates.In addition, the by the closure map shown in Figure 2. The variation
same closure map can be depicted by changing Fr or of closure modes with respect to CQs is identical at
CQs in different ways provided a supercavityis high Fr. In this regime, a stable TV mode, upon
maintained during the variation of these flow reduction in CQs, transitions into a foamy cavity
conditions. Moreover, the formation of RJ closure is through hybrid closure modes. However, at lower Fr,
observed to be very susceptible to collapse, unless Fr other stable closure modes such as QV and RJ are
and CQs are reduced very slowly from an initial observed as well.
vortex-based closure. RJ closure is found to be stable
only in a very narrow range of experimental
parameters. Based on this experimental observations
and prior numerical simulations (Kinzel et al. 2009),
Karn et al (2016a) attributed such observations to the
mean flow velocity in the supercavity core. It is
suggested that an RJ closure required a near-zero
meangas velocity inside the supercavity core, which
can only be obtained by gradually reducing the
internal flow velocity from an initially pressure-
driven cavity with significant gas velocity.
Ventilation hysteresis is another important
phenomenon underlying the closure map, which can
be substantiated byCQs - curve shown in Figure 3.
Ventilation hysteresis refers to the fact that a
supercavity can be maintained at much lower air
ventilation rates than required to form it. Figure 3
below presents two such hysteresis curves at different Figure 3:Variation of supercavity closures with
Fr. It shows that beginning with a foamy cavity at CQsand at two different Fr for B = 9 %
large ,the supercavity increases in size and
decreases as CQsis increased. This process
continues until a minimum is reached, and no
further reduction in is possible upon increment in
CQs at a particularFr. More importantly, the
supercavity can still be maintained as CQsis reduced
till a certain point before it collapses. The change in
CQs at this minimum is accompanied by a change
in supercavity closure. As noted in Figure 3, the
variation of these trends of closures is also dependent
upon Fr. As Fr increases, it is observed that for a
formed supercavity decreases.
Figure 4 further demonstrates the nature of
this variation of with Fr. As the figure shows, with
increase in Fr, initially decreases till a point when Figure 4:Variation of with Frfor a supercavity at
attains a constant value. At this minimum value of B = 9%(adapted from Karn et al. 2016a)
(i.e. high Fr) the supercavity transitions from a TV


1 1 1
1 1 σ 1 1 1
1 1 1
1 ..............................(2)

The above equation does not capture gravity

Figure 5:A schematic of a supercavity in a closed effects and if the values of and can be assumed
wall experimental facility to be small enough, the series expansion can be
employed to simplify the above equation to
The reason behind such a variation of
with Fr can be explained based on some ........................................(3)

experimental observations and analytical reasoning Table 1 below shows the comparison of the
by applying conservation laws on a supercavity in a bounded and the unbounded cavitation numbers
closed-wall facility. Figure 5 shows the schematic of (calculated using equation 2) for the Fr number range
a supercavity in the water tunnel with width D, and used in our experiments for B = 9 %.
supercavity maximum diameter Dc. Applying
continuity equation across the two vertical sections of Fr
the indicated control-volume (the right section of the 9.0 0.285 0.215
control volume is at supercavity maximum diameter, 11.3 0.261 0.184
where supercavity interface is nearly flat), 13.5 0.243 0.161
conservation of energy equation along a streamline 15.8 0.220 0.129
along supercavity interface and combining these two 18.1 0.211 0.116
equations, we get: 20.3 0.211 0.116
22.6 0.210 0.115
1 1 .................................(1)
Table 1: Variation of bounded and unbounded
The above expression demonstrates the cavitation numbers with Fr.
dependence of upon two parameters: Dcand D. Our
Further, to explain the observations from the
experiments provide evidence that as Fr is increased closure map, a frameworkgoverning the physical
from an initially low value, Dc decreases initially till mechanism determining the closure modes of a
it attains a minimum, and no further decrement is ventilated supercavitywas proposed in Karn et al
observed upon consequent increment in Fr.Based on (2016a) based on the intricate relationship between
this observation and the equation (1) presented closure and pressure drop at the supercavity rear. The
above, a similar - Fr trendis expected, in frameworkposits that the closure mechanism is
concordance with our experimental measurements as mainly determined by the pressure difference across
shown in Figure 4. the gas-water interface at the cavity closure. This
pressure difference is constructed in a dimensionless
To relate the cavitation number measured in
our experiments in the presence of blockage of tunnel form asΔ / , where
walls, to unbounded cavitation numbers obtained in 1/2 is the dynamic pressure of water in
flows with one free surface and infinite water depth, the test section, in and outare the dimensionless
we employed a theoretical model by Karlikov and static pressures inside and just outside the cavity at
Sholomovich (1966). This model applies to two- the closure, respectively. For RJ mode, the Δ is
dimensional and axisymmetric flows, and the dominated by the momentum of re-entrant water jet,
unbounded cavitation number ( ) can be expressed while for a vortex-based closure (e.g. TV and QV
as modes), such pressure difference is significantly
smaller in the absence of a re-entrant jet, i.e. Δ ≫
Δ ,Δ .The change of Fr, CQs, B or type of


experimental facility leads to the change of Δ , section are measured, and are synchronized with the
resulting in the variation of closure modes. high speed imaging of the supercavity. In particular,
the pressure inside the supercavity was measured by
The proposed framework was supported by
inserting a hypodermic tube axially inside the
both experimental measurements and computational
ventilation. The experiments show that the incoming
simulations from our recent studies. Specifically, to
flow unsteadiness leads to a change in supercavity
investigate the relation between closure mode
closure modes (Figure 6b). Such change of closure
variation and internal pressure change, we conducted
modes is well correlated with the pressure variations
experiments to vary the internal pressure of a
with inside the supercavity (Figure 6b). Specifically,
supercavity by introducing incoming unsteady gusts
the closure mode transitions from TV to RJ and then
(Karn et al 2015). The unsteady conditions are
back to TV as the cavity pressure drops from peak to
generated using a gust generator located upstream of
trough and rises to peak in one gust cycle. This trend
the cavitator as illustrated in Figure 6a (Kopriva et al
is consistent across a wide range of gust frequency
2008). Pressures inside the supercavity and the test
and amplitude.

Figure 6:(a) The experimental setup for studying unsteady ventilated supercavitation (b) The periodic variation in
test-section pressure, cavity pressure and the cavitation number defined by their difference.Inset shows the bottom
views of the TV and RJ closures (Adapted from Karn et al. 2015).

Recently, we conducted numerical pressure on supercavity surface, attributing to the

simulations to further investigate internal flow large density difference between water and gas/vapor
physics and closure mechanism of a supercavity, by (Vlasenko and Savchenko 2012). Similarly,
solving partially-averaged Navier-Stokes equations experimental studies also involve pressure
(PANS, based on standard turbulence model) measurement at one location close to the cavitator,
in commercially available CFD package ANSYS while ignoring the occurrence of pressure gradients
CFX 16.0. The numerical simulations show that the inside the supercavity (Kawakami and Arndt 2011,
internal flows can induce a small pressure gradient Lee et al. 2013). However, the changes in internal
inside the supercavity, and can lead to variations in flow field may induce a change of pressure inside the
closure mechanisms. Previous studies on ventilated cavity. For instance, at large ventilation
supercavitation have ignored the influence of gas rates, the pressure on the supercavity surface is not
flow inside the supercavity and assume a constant constant (Vlasenko and Savchenko 2012). However,


due to the presence of severe unsteadiness and gas- mostly in the downstream direction. The occurrence
liquid turbulent flows at the supercavity rear portion, of these circulatory motions inside the supercavity
it is difficult to measure the pressures inside and might cause a small pressure distribution to exist
outside the supercavity closures. Thus, we resort to inside the supercavity. Further, an averaged Δ was
numerical simulation to obtain an estimate of the obtained at the rear of TV and RJ closures. For both
pressure existing inside and outside of a TV and RJ the supercavity closure cases, the internal pressure is
closure. Here, two simulated cases are presented averaged across a vertical line corresponding to an
corresponding to the experimental conditions marked average volume fraction of 0.9, whereas the external
in Figure 2. As shown in Figures 7a and 7b, the pressures were averaged along a line in the
simulated cases yield a TV and an RJ closure supercavity wake. Using this approximate
geometry, respectively, comparable to experimental methodology, a Δ of 0.24 and 0.14 was obtained for
cases, ascertaining the capability of numerical RJ and TV, respectively. Although the numerical
simulation technique in capturing supercavity simulations using commercially available packages
closures. Subsequently, Figures 7c and 7d present the like CFX are generally limited in accurately
velocity fields inside the supercavity overlaid on the capturing the complex physical processes concerning
air volume fraction inside the supercavity near the gas-liquid interactions at the closure, these simulation
closure region. A comparison of these figures suggest results support the predictions of our proposed
that a stronger recirculation exists inside a RJ cavity, framework governing supercavity closures.
as compared to the TV cavity, where the gas flow is

Figure 7: The results of numerical simulations showing iso-surface of air corresponding to void fraction = 0.1 at the
rear of an (a) RJ closure, and (b) TV closure; Velocity field inside and around an (c) RJ closure, and (d) TV closure.
These simulations were conducted at the experimental conditions as pointed out in the closure map in Figure 2. The
thick vertical lines in (c) and (d) show the location where pressures inside the supercavity are averaged. The
colorbarof air-volume fraction applies to both (c) and (d).


Finally, another point regarding the found to be well correlated with the pressure
ventilation demand associated with different difference between cavity interior and exterior at
supercavity closures can be made. The closure maps supercavity rear. We also systematically studied the
and CQ- curve presented earlier (Figure 3)indicates effect of incoming flow unsteadiness in determining
that a significant change of ventilation demand can these air entrainment values. However, to fully
be achieved between the formation and sustenance of elucidate the mechanism underlying the observed
a supercavity by varying closure mode. The trends require experimental tools to quantify the
characterization of this difference between the changing bubble size distribution prior to supercavity
formation and sustenance ventilation requirements at formation and internal pressure distribution during
different flow conditions is imperative for the the collapse of a supercavity.
accurate estimation of ventilation demand. To
systematically investigate the formation and
sustenance air entrainment behavior of a supercavity, DISCUSSION
a follow up study was carried out (Karn et al 2016b).
The minimum air entrainment coefficient required to In summary, our recent studies have provided
form a supercavity at standard condition is depicted interesting insights into the ventilation physics that
as CQform, whereas the minimumCQ at the point when can help characterize ventilation demand. First, our
thesupercavity collapses as ventilation rate reduces is experiments showed a wide array of closure
represented by CQsust. mechanisms, which were obtained by a systematic
variation of gas ventilation rates and liquid velocity.
The closure modes, when plotted on an Fr-
CQs closure map showed several interesting features,
such as critical ventilation rate, path-selectivity and
ventilation hysteresis. A critical ventilation rate
which governs the transition from the supercavity
state to the foamy cavity state, is identified and is
found to be independent of the blockage effects
suggesting its relationship with fundamental
supercavity physics.The path selectivity,
susceptibility of RJ closure to flow conditions and the
occurrence of ventilation hysteresisisrelated to the
internal flows inside a supercavity, based on our
experimental observations and the numerical
simulations of Kinzel et al. (2009). Our recent studies
have suggested that the supercavity formation is
Figure 8: Variation of formation and sustenance air driven by the process of bubble coalescence. The
entrainment coefficient with Fr for B = 9 %. high ventilation rates required for driving the
individual bubbles to coalesce into a single
As shown in Figure 8, the studyreveals a supercavity, results in a pressure-driven cavity with a
non-monotonic trend of CQforn with increasing Fr. We high mean downstream gas velocity at the
suggest that it is associated with the changing bubble supercavity core, a characteristic of the twin-vortex
coalescence efficiency to transform a foamy state of a cavity. However, upon gradual reduction in
cavity to a supercavity, as the ventilation changes ventilation rate, the mean horizontal velocity can be
from low Fr (low bubble concentration regime)to reduced to approach near zero gas velocity, at which
high Fr (high bubble concentration regime). On the an RJ can be obtained. Further, the processes of
other hand, CQsustinitially decreases and gradually bubble breakup and coalescence were also suggested
plateaus as Fr increases. The trend of CQsust was to have an important bearing on the process of
supercavity formation, whereas the fluctuation of


pressure distribution inside the supercavity was Figure 9: Dependence of ventilation demand upon
attributed to the cause of supercavity collapse. vehicle speed.
Overall, our experiments show the significance of
internal flow physics and the detailed physical ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
phenomenon like bubble breakup and coalescence in This work is supported by Office of Naval Research
accurate estimation of ventilation demand. However, – United States (Program manager: Dr. R. Joslin)
to conclusively establish the physics behind these under grant no. N000140910141 and the startup of
processes requires more advanced experiments. J.H. from the University of Minnesota.
Despite the experimental limitations, the
overallfindingspresented here provide useful physical
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