In nuclear reactors, piping components are susceptible to thermal fatigue damage. This is due to the fluid temperature change along these pipelines that can generate repeated thermal loads. One of these loads is thermal stratification.

Thermal stratification generates an oscillating stratified layer, which induce cyclic thermal stresses leading to fatigue damage. To evaluate thermal fatigue by thermal stratification, a frequency response function for straight pipes was developed. However, this function cannot evaluate elbow pipes under thermal stratification. Here, thermal stress generates due to bending moment that is generated by the horizontal portion unlike straight pipes. Furthermore, the elbow pipe can give rise to stress intensifications which can affect the peak stress values within the elbow.

To understand the stress generation mechanism, Finite element analyses were performed. The study focused on the effect the frequency of the fluid oscillation on the stress generation mechanism. Based on the clarified mechanism, the frequency response function was improved to correspond to the thermal stratification at elbow pipes. Applicability of this function was validated through agreement with finite element simulation.

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