A change from the liquid state to the gaseous state is known as Vaporizations. The vaporization (which depends upon the prevailing pressure and temperature condition) occurs because of continuous escaping of the molecules through the free liquid surface.

Consider a liquid at a temp. of 20°C and pressure is atmospheric is confined in a closed vessel. This liquid will vaporize at 100°C, the molecules escape from the free surface of the liquid and get accumulated in the space between the free liquid surface and top of the vessel. These accumulated vapours exert a pressure on the liquid surface. This pressure is known as vapour pressure of the liquid or pressure at which the liquid is converted in to vapours.

Consider the same liquid at 20 ° c at atmospheric pressure in the closed vessel and the pressure above the liquid surface is reduced by some means; the boiling temperature will also reduce. If the pressure is reduced to such an extent that it becomes equal to or less than the vapour pressure, the boiling of the liquid will start, though the temperature of the liquid is 20°C. Thus, the liquid may boil at the ordinary temperature, if the pressure above the liquid surface is reduced so as to be equal or less than the vapour pressure of the liquid at that temperature.

Now, consider a flowing system, if the pressure at any point in this flowing liquid becomes equal to or less than the vapour pressure, the vapourisation of the liquid starts. The bubbles of these vapours are carried by the flowing liquid in to the region of high pressure where they collapse, giving rise to impact pressure. The pressure developed by the collapsing bubbles is so high that the material from the adjoining boundaries gets eroded and cavities are formed on them. This phenomenon is known as CAVITATION.

Hence the cavitations is the phenomenon of formation of vapour bubbles of a flowing liquid in a region where the pressure of the liquid falls below the vapour pressure and sudden collapsing of these vapour bubbles in a region of high pressure,. When the vapour bubbles collapse, a very high pressure is created. The metallic surface, above which the liquid is flowing, is subjected to these high pressures, which cause pitting actions on the surface. Thus cavities are formed on the metallic surface and hence the name is cavitation.

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