Cavitation is an effect in which the dynamic pressure of a liquid decreases to less than the vapour pressure, causing the formation of minute liquid droplets in the fluid. With cavitation, liquid droplets are produced at very low pressures. Cavitation can result from a variety of physical properties of solids, ranging from the weak thermal conductivity of liquid droplets to the highly permeable nature of certain types of polymers.
For most industrial pump manufacturers, cavitation refers to the phenomenon whereby the static pressure of a pump falls below the vapour pressure. This happens because the pump is operating below its rated pressure. To address this situation, pump manufacturers build pumps with lower static pressures. Some pumps even have their pump sections made of plastic, so that they can be kept at a constant temperature even when there is not much refrigerant in the supply. Still, even when the pump is operating at less than its maximum vapour pressure, some liquid droplets still may form, and these may become disorganized.
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Certain industries are more susceptible to cavitation than others, and the industries that are most prone to them are those that use pumps with low temperatures, such as that used in cryogenics. Because of the potential for vapour bubbles to form, high temperatures are used in the manufacture of many components, especially in the case of pump oil.