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Vortex flow and cavitation in diesel injector nozzles

  • A. ANDRIOTIS (a1), M. GAVAISES (a1) and C. ARCOUMANIS (a1)

Flow visualization as well as three-dimensional cavitating flow simulations have been employed for characterizing the formation of cavitation inside transparent replicas of fuel injector valves used in low-speed two-stroke diesel engines. The designs tested have incorporated five-hole nozzles with cylindrical as well as tapered holes operating at different fixed needle lift positions. High-speed images have revealed the formation of an unsteady vapour structure upstream of the injection holes inside the nozzle volume, which is referred to as ‘string-cavitation’. Computation of the flow distribution and combination with three-dimensional reconstruction of the location of the strings inside the nozzle volume has revealed that strings are found at the core of recirculation zones; they originate either from pre-existing cavitation sites forming at sharp corners inside the nozzle where the pressure falls below the vapour pressure of the flowing liquid, or even from suction of outside air downstream of the hole exit. Processing of the acquired images has allowed estimation of the mean location and probability of appearance of the cavitating strings in the three-dimensional space as a function of needle lift, cavitation and Reynolds number. The frequency of appearance of the strings has been correlated with the Strouhal number of the vortices developing inside the sac volume; the latter has been found to be a function of needle lift and hole shape. The presence of strings has significantly affected the flow conditions at the nozzle exit, influencing the injected spray. The cavitation structures formed inside the injection holes are significantly altered by the presence of cavitation strings and are jointly responsible for up to 10% variation in the instantaneous fuel injection quantity. Extrapolation using model predictions for real-size injectors operating at realistic injection pressures indicates that cavitation strings are expected to appear within the time scales of typical injection events, implying significant hole-to-hole and cycle-to-cycle variations during the corresponding spray development.

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