In this paper we address the problem of computing the nonlinear vibro-impact responses of gap-supported heat-exchanger tubes subjected to fluid-elastic coupling forces, as well as to the turbulence excitation from transverse flows. Emphasis is on the fluid-elastic modeling within a time-domain nonlinear framework, as well as on the stabilizing effect of impacts on the fluid-elastic coupling forces. Theoretical computations of the linear and vibro-impacting regimes of a flow-excited cantilever test tube, within a rigid 3×5 square bundle, are based on the experimentally identified fluid-elastic coupling force coefficients and turbulence spectrum. Computations are then compared with the experimental vibratory responses, enabling a full validation of the modeling approach. Furthermore, interesting conclusions are drawn, concerning: (a) the energy balance between sources and sinks, for a vibro-impacting tube subjected to fluid-elastic forces; (b) the dependence of the vibration response frequency on impacts at the loose supports, and their effect on the nonlinear re-stabilization of fluid-elastically unstable tubes. Details on the following aspects are reported in the paper: (1) Numerical modeling of the fluid-elastic coupling forces for time-domain computations; (2) Experimental identification of the fluid-elastic coupling coefficients; (3) Computations and experiments of both linear and vibro-impacting responses under the combined action of turbulence and fluid-elastic coupling; and (4) Energy aspects of the vibro-impacting fluid-elastically coupled tube responses.

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