Service reliability and durability of tubular heat exchangers and steam generators are much dependent on the proper response of the tube-to-tubesheet joints to the operating conditions. In this paper a 2-D axisymmetric finite element model is proposed and compared to a 3-D finite element solution for the purpose of predicting the temperature effect on the residual contact pressure and maximum tensile residual stresses of such joints. A parametric study using the finite element results shows that, although thermal loading and temperature cycling have a negligible effect on the maximum tensile residual stresses, the room-temperature initial residual contact pressure may be completely relieved following the initiation of plastic deformation in either the tube or the tubesheet during thermal loading. A comparison between the results of the proposed finite element model and those obtained from the literature shows good agreement. A simplified analytical approach, which may be used for the design of tube-to-tubesheet joints, is also proposed to predict the joint behavior at the operating conditions.

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