Fluidelastic instability of loosely supported tubes, vibrating in a tube support plate (TSP)-inactive mode, is suspected to be one of the main causes of tube failure in some operating steam generators and heat exchangers. This paper presents a mathematical model for fluidelastic instability of loosely supported tubes exposed to nonuniform cross flow. The model incorporates all motion-dependent fluid forces based on the unsteady-flow theory. In the unstable region associated with a TSP-inactive mode, tube motion can be described by two linear models: TSP-inactive mode when tubes do not strike the TSP, and TSP-active mode when tubes do strike the TSP. The bilinear model (consisting of these linear models) presented here simulates the characteristics of fluidelastic instability of loosely supported tubes in stable and unstable regions associated with TSP-inactive modes. Analytical results obtained with the model are compared with published experimental data; they agree reasonably well. The prediction procedure presented for the fluidelastic instability response of loosely supported tubes is applicable to the stable and unstable regions of the TSP-inactive mode.

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