Cavitation inception in a ducted propulsor was studied numerically using Navier-Stokes computations and bubble dynamics models. Experimental observations of the propulsor model and previous numerical computations using Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) codes indicated that cavitation inception occurred in the region of interaction of the leakage and trailing tip vortices. The RANS simulations failed, however, to predict correctly both the cavitation inception index value and the inception location. To improve the numerical predictions, we complemented here the RANS computations with a direct Navier-Stokes simulation in a reduced computational domain including the region of interaction of the two vortices. Initial and boundary conditions in the reduced domain were provided by the RANS solution of the full ducted propulsor flow. Bubble nuclei were released in this flow field, and spherical and nonspherical bubble dynamics models were exercised to investigate cavitation inception. This resulted in a solution in much better agreement with the experimental measurements than the original RANS solution. Both the value of the cavitation inception index and the location of the cavitation inception were very well captured. The characteristics of the emitted acoustic signals and of the bubble shapes during a cavitation event were also computed.

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