Cavitation erosion is a significant problem in naval and maritime systems impacting propellers, rudders, ship hulls, pump impellers and thrusters. The phenomenon occurs, for example in propellers, as liquid flows through regions of low pressure and bubbles form due to the concentration of dissolved gases and the reduced pressure. As this liquid re-enters areas of higher pressure the bubbles collapse non-symmetrically due to contact on the surface thereby generating fast moving jets of liquid impinging on the component and eventually generating fatigue-spall of the surface; this spall accumulates as material erosion. We discuss the theory coupling erosion and tensile stress and provide experimental results showing how cavitation erosion is significantly reduced by generating compressive stress bias in the material by means of laser peening.

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