Nuclear steam generators are critical components of nuclear power plants. Flow-Induced Vibrations (FIV) are a major threat to the operation of nuclear steam generators. The two main manifestations of FIV in heat exchangers are turbulence and fluidelastic instability, which would add mechanical energy to the system resulting in great levels of vibrations. The consequences on the operation of steam generators are premature wear of the tubes, as well as development of cracks that may leak radioactive heavy water.
This paper investigates the effect of tube support clearance on crack propagation. A crack growth model is used to simulate the growth of Surface Flaws and Through-Wall Cracks of various initial sizes due to a wide range of support clearances. Leakage rates are predicted using a two-phase flow leakage model. Non-linear finite element analysis is used to simulate a full U-bend subjected to fluidelastic and turbulence forces. Monte Carlo Simulations are then used to conduct a probabilistic assessment of steam generator life due to crack development.