We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Supercavitation?

Michael Anissimov
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
InfoBloom is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At InfoBloom, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Supercavitation is a remarkable technology which most people have never heard of. By reducing drag on submarines and torpedoes by a factor of 60-70%, supercavitation could transform the stealthy world of submarine warfare into something more like aerial combat, with objects flying back and forth at speeds much faster than the submarines we know.

Supercavitation exploits the phenomena of cavitation, something that submarine designers usually try to avoid. It would work as follows. When the nose of a torpedo or submarine is shaped in a certain way, usually flat with sharp edges, it creates an excessive amount of drag through the water. But the design of the nose accelerates the water it moves through at quick speeds, causing it to lose pressure and vaporize into bubbles. This follows from the well-known Bernoulli's principle, which states that fluid velocity and pressure/density are related. When the velocity increases, the density drops. When the density drops below the vapor pressure of the water, the water vaporizes until it slows down enough to recondense.

By purposefully vaporizing as much water as it can, a supercavitating submarine or torpedo can create a bubble of air so large that it encompasses the whole vehicle. This is a positive feedback process - the more water is vaporized by the specially designed nose, the less drag on the vehicle, the easier it gets to move even faster and vaporize more water. The primary downside is that a supercavitating object is extremely loud. It churns water with such abandon that a shock wave would emanate out from the vehicle wherever it went. This, along with technological challenges, is the reason why supercavitating submarines have not yet been developed, although they are in the works. Supercavitating torpedoes have experienced limited use.

As with many interesting technological advancements, torpedoes exploiting supercavitation were originally developed by the Germans during WWII. Subsequently they were abandoned and taken up by the Russians. In recent years, the United States has taken a great interest in the technology, working on an "Underwater Express" program to create a supercavitating underwater battleship. Developing powerful underwater military capability is essential for national security because of the threat of nuclear submarines.

InfoBloom is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated InfoBloom contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By anon142671 — On Jan 13, 2011

Purposeful vaporization is not necessary as some of the rocket engine's exhaust can be forced out of the nose to create and maintain the bubble and then redirect to the tail once a natural bubble is formed.

Even if almost half the exhaust is spent out of the nose, the decrease in resistance should be enough to accelerate the torpedo forward rather quickly, even with a 49 percent nose to 51 percent tail exhaust distribution.

The whole idea is that high acceleration rates take insignificant amounts of thrust as friction starts to approach zero (see space shuttle's massive boosters needed to leave earth and minuscule boosters needed to maneuver in space).

Cavitation causes "earthquakes" as air bubbles are liquefied. In contrast, supercavitation maintains the bubble intact, well at least until the torpedo strikes and the bubble collapses, and even then, the energy released by the cavitation is insignificant when compared with the kinetic energy released on impact. A 2.5 tonne torpedo going from 300km/h to zero and the subsequent chemical or nuclear explosion as the warhead goes off before the torpedo can exit the target (assuming it has a penetrator).

Anti ship torpedoes normally do not have penetrators and simply go off under the target to raise it out of the water and cause the keel to rupture. Supercavitating submarines are impractical as their bubbles collapsing every time they stop will cause structural damage. That problem does not arise with a torpedo as it only needs to stop once.

By time — On Nov 27, 2009

Can we say by the way propeller acts in the air instead of water that is why the speed of submarine increases?

By anon39996 — On Aug 05, 2009

I've read that super cavitating torpedoes carry gas onboard to generate bubble envelope. How can you reach speeds fast enough to "purposefully" vaporize water? I would assume that even the rocket motor would be hampered at launch if no bubble "jacket" was present.

By anon11368 — On Apr 15, 2008

Interesting, gee I wonder if an earthquake could be spawned via super-cavitation. Of course no one would ever use that technology.

Humans are too ethical to do that.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated InfoBloom contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology,...
Learn more
InfoBloom, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

InfoBloom, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.