A spacer grid is one of the main structural components in a fuel assembly of a Pressurized light Water Reactor (PWR). It supports fuel rods, guides cooling water, and maintains geometry from external impact loads. A simulation is performed for the strength of a spacer grid under impact load. The critical impact load that leads to plastic deformation is identified by a free-fall test. A finite element model is established for the nonlinear simulation of the test. The simulation model is tuned based on the free-fall test. The model considers the aspects of welding and the contacts between components. Nonlinear finite element analysis is carried out by a software system called LS/DYNA3D. The results are discussed from a design viewpoint.

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