An experimental study of hydrodynamic cavitation downstream microdiaphragms and microventuris is presented. Deionized water and nanofluids have been characterized within silicon–Pyrex micromachined devices with hydraulic diameters ranging from 51 μm to 104 μm. The input pressure could reach up to 10 bars, and the flow rate was below 1 liter per hour. The output pressure of the devices was fixed at values ranging from 0.3 bar to 2 bars, so that it was possible to study the evolution of the cavitation number as a function of the Reynolds number in the orifice of the diaphragms or in the throat of the venturis. A delay on the onset of cavitation has been recorded for all the devices when they are fed with deionized water, because of the metastability of the liquid and because of the lack of roughness of the walls. For the first time, hydrodynamic cavitation of nanofluids (nanoparticles dispersed into the liquid) has been considered. The presence of nano-aggregates in the liquid does not exhibit any noticeable effect on the cavitation threshold through the venturis. However, such a presence has a strong influence on the cavitation onset in microdiaphragms: above a critical volume solid concentration of ≈10−5, the metastability is broken and the nanofluids behave as tap water filled up with large nuclei. These microdevices, where a low amount of fluid is required to reach cavitating flows, appear to be useful tools in order to study cavitating phenomena in localized area with specific fluids.
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