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2nd Micro and Nano Flows Conference West London, UK, 1-2 September 2009




* Corresponding author: Tel.: ++90 2164839621; Fax: ++90 2164839550; Email: 1: Mechatronics Engineering Program, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Sabancı University, Istanbul, TURKEY

2: Biomedical Sciences and Bioengineering Program, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Sabancı University, Istanbul, TURKEY

Abstract The paper presents a study of the generation of hydrodynamic bubbly cavitation in microchannels to investigate the destructive energy output resulting from this phenomenon and its potential use in biomedical applications. The research performed in this study includes the experimental results from bubbly cavitation experiments and the findings showing the destructive effects of bubbly cavitating flow on selected specimens and cells.

The bubbles caused by hydrodynamic cavitation are highly destructive at the surfaces of the target medium on which they are carefully focused. The resulting destructive energy output could be effectively used for good means such as destroying kidney stones or killing infected cancer cells. Motivated by this potential, the cavitation damage (material removal) to cancerous cells and chalk pieces having similar material properties as calcium phosphate in human bones was investigated. Also the potential of hydrodynamic bubbly cavitation generated at the microscale for biomedical treatments was revealed using the microchannel configuration of a microorifice (with an inner diameter of 0.147 mm and a length of 1.52cm).

Keywords: Hydrodynamic cavitation; Bubbly cavitating flow; Microchannel; Cavitation damage; Biomedical treatment; Cancer cells.

1. Introduction

Hydrodynamic cavitation is typically initiated with local static pressure reduction below a critical value. Its effects on many types of turbomachinery have been investigated by numerous researchers summarized in typical articles and standard multiphase flow textbooks [1-4]. It is known that every hydraulic device is susceptible to the damage caused by cavitation once the appropriate cavitating flow conditions occur. In most cases, hydrodynamic cavitation is not desired since it limits the performance of the fluidic system, causes catastrophic damage and flow choking, generates acoustic noise, and lowers efficiency [1]. Due to its consequences and its destructive nature, cavitation and the energy associated with it constitute an important research subject.

There are two main sources for creating cavitating flow: hydrodynamic and ultrasonic sources. Although ultrasonic sources have been the most popular means of generating cavitation in laboratory scale studies, and

numerous applications of ultrasonic cavitation (including biomedical applications) do occur [5-6], ultrasonic cavitation applications have suffered from several shortcomings on industrial scale applications due to high frequency ultrasound usage. Moreover, ultrasonic cavitation is not as energy efficient as hydrodynamic cavitation [7-11].

With the emergence of microfluidics hydrodynamic cavitation has been considered as an important alternative to ultrasonic cavitation over the last decade. Pioneering studies on hydrodynamic cavitation in microchannels have been successful in showing the unique properties of cavitating flow at the microscale [12-16].

The use of ultrasonic cavitation in treatment of cancerous tissues has been investigated by various researchers [5-6, 17- 18] and has been widely employed in. It is a non-invasive treatment, where some difficulties are faced in targeting the precise location (sick tissue, kidney stone) of the treatment. Hydrodynamic cavitation is another candidate with a cost effective and energy efficient solution. Moreover, with an


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