This paper proposes a computation technique to develop a simplified nonlinear model for a typical nuclear fuel assembly. Because more than a hundred fuel assemblies are packed in the reactor, simplistic model generation is critical to evaluate the motion during an anticipated event such as earthquake. Two straight beams are introduced to simplify the fuel assembly, and the beam properties are moderately defined to represent the skeleton structure and a bundle of slender fuel rods. Because nonlinearity is caused by the interaction between the rods and the spacer grids in the skeleton structure, the two beams are connected with multilinear joints that characterize the mechanical interaction between them. An equation of motion for the model is provided, and the degree of the freedom of the model can be reduced by using a few major modes of the beams. Significant mechanical parameters must be defined reasonably, so a method is proposed to identify unknown parameters through a deterministic calculation and an optimization process. All the information, including the identified parameters, are utilized to develop a nonlinear finite element model with a commercial code. The performance of the model is compared with the test results.

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