Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Kozo Saito

Second Advisor

Dr. Abraham J. Salazar


The disintegration of a liquid jet emerging from a nozzle has been under investigation for several decades. A direct consequence of the liquid jet disintegration process is droplet formation. The breakup of a liquid jet into discrete droplets can be brought about by the use of a diverse forcing mechanism. Cavitation has been thought to assist the atomization process. Previous experimental studies, however, have dealt with cavitation as a secondary phenomenon assisting the primary atomization mechanism. In this dissertation, the role of the energy created by the collapse of cavitation bubbles, together with the liquid pressure perturbation is explicitly configured as a principal mechanism for the disintegration of the liquid jet. A prototype of an atomizer that uses this concept as a primary atomization mechanism was developed and experimentally tested using water as working fluid.

The atomizer fabrication process and the experimental characterization results are presented. The parameters tested include liquid injection pressure, ultrasonic horn tip frequency, and the liquid flow rate. The experimental results obtained demonstrate improvement in the atomization of water.

To fully characterize the new atomizer, a novel infrared thermography-based technique for the characterization and visualization of liquid sprays was developed. The technique was tested on the new atomizer and two automotive paint applicators. The technique uses an infrared thermography-based measurement in which a uniformly heated background acts as a thermal radiation source, and an infrared camera as the receiver. The infrared energy emitted by the source in traveling through the spray is attenuated by the presence of the droplets. The infrared intensity is captured by the receiver showing the attenuation in the image as a result of the presence of the spray.

The captured thermal image is used to study detailed macroscopic features of the spray flow field and the evolution of the droplets as they are transferred from the applicator to the target surface. In addition, the thermal image is post-processed using theoretical and empirical equations to extract information from which the liquid volume fraction and number density within the spray are estimated.



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